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Memoir and Letters* 

* — I Sara Coleridge 

Gbc3. <L Saul Collection 


IRmetecntb denting 
Enolisb Xitcrature 

Ipurcbaseo in part 

tbrougb a contribution to tbe 

Xibrarg jfnnbs maoe b\: tbe 

department of Englisb in 

mniversttY> College, 



• <*- 




EDI 1 1 l » i:V 


Spirit, yet a Woman 


VOL. I. 




/K y 

Henry S. King & Co., 65 C o r n ii i l l, 

AND 12 I\\ -1 : STER Row 

1 8 7 3- 

»* * 

S&RVlCi ' 

MAY 1 3 1892 

Turnbull 6° Spears, Printers, Edinburgh. 




(All rights reserved) 


" Poor is the portrait that one look pourtrays. 
It mocks the face on which we loved to gaze." 

And if this be true of such external resemblances as 
pictorial art is employed to produce, it is equally true 
of that unconscious self-portraiture, that revelation 

the inner mind, which Is contained, in a greater or less 
degree, in any collection of published letters. The 
interest which such works are intended to excite is, in 
the main, biographical, and their object is not merely 
to preserve and bring to light a number of writings i f 
intrinsic merit and beauty, but still more, perhaps, to 
present to the reader a record, however imperfect, of the 
personal characteristics, both moral and intellectual, of 
the writer. 

But how faint and inadequate, if not incorrect, is that 
image of the departed, which can alone be thus repro- 
* Lines in " Phantasmion. " 

vi Preface. 

ciuced ! Even the original correspondence, could it be 
given entire in all its details (which is, for obvious 
reasons, impossible), would be but as a mirrored reflec- 
tion — a selection from the correspondence is but its 
scattered fragments. 

The difficulty which must attend on all such under- 
takings as that on which I have been engaged, in 
editing the letters of my Mother, is rather increased 
than diminished by that very quality which constitutes 
their peculiar charm, I mean their perfect genuineness 
and life-like reality. 

Touching descriptions of personal feeling, acute 
remarks and wise reflections occur here in abundance, 
which seem, to the eye of affection, to be " gems of 
purest ray serene," the utterances of a heart full of 
sensibility, and an intellect at once subtle and profound. 
Yet, severed as they must often be from the context 
which justified and explained them, these thoughtful 
comments on the life within and around her, may, it is 
to be feared, either lose their full significance, or assume 
one that is exaggerated and untrue. 

Even those portions of the following collection which 

seem, at first sight, to be most abstract and elaborate 

h as the critical discussions on Art and Poetry, and 

those which intimate the results of speculative thought 

and religious inquiry), will be found, on consideration, 

Pre/a vii 

to be full of personal references, suggested by sp< 
occasions, and connected at all points with the realities 

of life. 

The letters of Sara Coleridge were not acts of author- 
ship, 'but of friendship; we feel, in reading them, that 
she is not entertaining or instructing a crowd of lis- 
teners, but holding quiet converse with some congenial 
mind. Her share of that converse we are privileged in 
part to overhear, while the response is borne away by 
the winds in another direction. 

A book composed of epistolary extracts can never 
be a wholly satisfactory one, because its contents are 
not onlv relative and fragmentarv, but unauthorized 
and unreviscd. To arrest the passing utterances of the 
hour, and reveal to the world that which was spoken 
either in the innermost circle of home affection, or in 
the outer (but still guarded) circle of social and friendly 
intercourse, seems almost like a betrayal of confidence, 
and is a step which cannot be taken by survivors with- 
out some feelings of hesitation and reluctance. Thai 
reluctance is only to be overcome by the sense that, 
however natural, it is partly founded on delusion — a 
delusion which leads us to personify "the world," to 
our imagination, as an obtuse and somewhat hostile 
individual, who is certain to take things by the wrong 
handle, and cannot be trusted to make the needful allow- 

viii Preface. 

ances, and supply the inevitable omissions. Whereas 
it is a more reasonable as well as a more comfortable 
belief, that the only part of the world which is in the 
least likely to concern itself with such volumes as these, 
is composed of a number of enlightened and sympa- 
thetic persons ; who, it is hoped, though strangers to all 
but the name of Sara Coleridge, may yet derive from 
her letters some portion of the gratification which they 
once afforded to those who knew and loved her. And 
if it be well for us to "think on whatsoever things are 
true, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are 
lovely," and to rejoice in " any virtue and any praise," 
we ought surely to be willing that all who desire it 
should hear the music of the words in which these 
things are uttered, and see the light of the life in which 
they shone. 

In conclusion, I have only to offer my respectful 
and grateful acknowledgments to those who have ren- 
dered this memorial possible, by their kindness in en- 
trusting me with these treasured records of a friendship 
long past, yet never past away. 

E. C. 

II WW! I.I. 

May 7th, 1873. 



Preface, ....... v 


Recollections of Sara Coleridge. Written by Her- 
self, in a Letter to her Daughter. 

Little Grand Lamas — Fall into the Greta — " Pi-pos, Pot-pos " — 
Visit to the South -Martha and Eliza Fricker — Greta Hall 
Garden — Greta Hall Drawing-room — Visit to Allan Bank — 
Political Discussions — The Lake Poets on dress — Visit to 
Allonby— Night Fears — Sketch by William Collins — Remi- 
niscences of Sir Henry Taylor — Early Religious Views — 
" Memoir of the Chevalier Bayard" — "Account of the Abi- 
poncs" — Visit to Highgate — Marriage Prospects — Henry 
Nelson Coleridge — " Phantasmion " and " Pretty Lessons" — 
Widowhood — Editorial Duties — Her Spirituality of mind — 
Her sweetness of Manner — Her Memory, . . 1-53 

1— a 

vi Contents. 


CHAPTER I.— 1833. 

Letters to her Husband, her eldest brother Hartley 
Coleridge, and Miss Trevenen, 55-69. 

I. Importance of indirect Influences on Education — Description of her 
Son at three years old— A Child's first effort at Recollection (57-61). 
II. Mrs Joanna Baillie— "An Old Age Serene and Bright"— Miss .Mar 
tineau's Characters' of Children— "A Little Knowledge" of Political 
Economy "a Dangerous Thing "— Comparison of Tasso, Dante, and 
Milton (61-64). HI- Characteristics of Lnglish Scenery — Somerset, 

Yorkshire, Devon, Derbyshire, and the Lakes — Visit of H. N. Coleridge 
to Mr Poole at Nether Stowey (64-66). IV. " Dodging"— Children 

best managed by Authority, not by premature appeals made to their feelings 
(66-70). V. The Ancients' close Observation and accurate Delineation 

of Nature — Names of Colours in classic poetry — " The Georgics " (67-69). 

CHAPTER II.— 1834. 
Letter to her Husband, and to Miss Trevenen, 71-93. 

I. Books for the Little ones— " Original Poems" — Mrs Howitt's Poetry 
— Mrs Hannah More — Girlish view of her literary pretensions confirmed by 
maturer judgment — A group of Authoresses — Remarks on Jane Austen's 
novels by the Lake Poets — Hannah More's celebrity accounted for — 
Letter-; of Walpole and Mrs Barbauld — Love of gossip in the reading 
Public. (73-77). TI. Reasons why the Greek and Latin Poets ought 
to continue to form part of the course of School Instruction — Lord Byron's 
peculiar experience no argument against it — Milton's scheme of Education 
— Conjecture as to the effect of Circumstances on the development of poetic 
Genius. (78, 70) III. Dryden and Chaucer. (80) IV. Concentra- 
tion, not Versatility, the secret of Success in life — Visionaries — The Passion 
of Envy and the Vice of Cruelty — Is Sporting wrong? Practical bearings 
of the question — Cruelty of Children seldom deliberate — Folly of exag- 
gerating Bird-nesting into a crime (80-86). V. The Drama and the 
Epic— Painting among the Ancients — Sense of the Picturesque in Nature, 
a development of Modern Taste (87, 88). VI. The Sublime and 

the beautiful — Comparative Popularity of Shakespeare, Milton, and Ben 
Jonson — Education of Taste by an Exclusive Study of the Best Models 
91). VII. Mrs Joanna Baillie's Taste in Dress — Opinion of the 

Poetess and of her Sister, expressed by an eminent Savant (91-93). 

Contents. vii 

CHAPTER III.— 1834 (continued). 

Letters to her Husband, and her eldest Brother, and 
to Mrs Plummer, 95-117. 

I. Composition of " Pretty Lessons for Good Children" (97). II. 
Chaucer's Poetry not that of a primitive Age (98). III. Note on I 
thustasm — Mischievous Effect of wrong Names given to Moral Qualities 
(99-100). IV. Cowper's " Iliad and Odyssey" — Requisites for a success 
ful Translation of Homer (100-101). V. False Etymologies — Dr 

Johnson, his Mental Powers, and Moral Character — Quiet Conclusion of 
" Paradise Lost," and of the Part of Shylock in the "Merchant of Venice" 
— Silence of Revenge; Eloquence of Love and Grief, and Indignation 
(101-105). VI. Authority of Criticism — The Judicial Faculty as much 
a part of the Human Mind as the Inventive Facult) — Great Art appeals to 
Sympathies which exist in all (105-107). VII. Botany — The Linnaan 

in quite as natural as the Modern Classification, though less compre- 
hensive — Both Arrangements ought to be learned by Botanical Students 
(107-K- VIII. On the Death of Samuel Taylor Coleridge Details 

of his last Illness — His Will, Letter-, and Literary Remains — Respect and 

lion felt for him l>y those with whom he lived — Probable Influence of 
his writings on the Course of Religious Thought — Remarks on his Genius 
and Character l>y different Critics — His last Readings and Notes (109- 
Il6). IX. Attachment of Mr Wordsworth to the Church of England — 

Arguments for an Establishment, in Mr Coleridge's "Church and State " 
1 16 117). 

CHAPTER IV.— 1835. 

Letters to her Husband, to Mrs Plummer, Miss i 
venen, Mrs Henry m. Jones, i 19-145. 

I. Early Training — How to instil right Principles of Conduct; and 
teach a Child the use of his Mind — A Little Boy's notion of Parental I >is- 
cipline (121-123). II. Her Contributions to the "Table Talk"— 

Taking Notes a useful Practice — Education: A' c hild may be taught 

a good deal, without any danger of Cramming — Deaths of Charles Lamb 
and Edward Irving (123-127). III. "The Accomplishment ofV< 

viii Contents. 

—The delightful Duty of improving natural Talents (127, 128). IV. 
Newspaper Criticisms on the "Table Talk" — Unreasonable Complaints 
Answered, and False Insinuations undignantly Rejected — Mr Coleridge 
not a Partisan, either of Whigs or Tories, though he was a Friend of the 
People and Supporter of the National Church — Mr Southey's Opinion of 
the Book (128-131). V. Union of Thought and Feeling in the Poetry 
of Wordsworth — The White Doe of Rylestone (131-133). VI. 

Charles Lamb, his Shyness and Tenderness— A lifelong Friendship 
(133, 134). VII. Writings of Charles Wolfe in Prose and Verse — His 
defence of Poetry against the attacks of the Utilitarians — Wolfe with the 
Methodists— Wesley's Interview with two crazy Enthusiasts— Political 
Questions from a Conservative point of view — The Secularization of Church 
Property — Projected Disestablishment of the Church in Ireland certain to 
lead to the same Measure in England — A Sisterly Wish on behalf of the 
Sister Isle (135-139). VIII. Severity not the right mode of Treat- 
ment for an Obstinate Temper, in spite of its apparent Success — Parental 
Discipline has a higher Aim, and avails itself of higher Influences (139- 
141). IX. Spiders— Their Webs and Ways (141, 142). X. Un- 
practical Suggestions of a Writer in the Athenaum on the subject of 
Female Education — Boarding School life not unhealthy for Girls under 
ordinary Circumstances — Alleged Physical Superiority of Savage over 
Civilised Races not founded on Fact ; nor much worth regretting if it were 
(142-144). XI. Puns — Affectation (145). 

CHAPTER V.— 1836. 

Letters to her Husband, her Mother, Mrs H. M. Jones, 
Miss Trevenen, Miss Arabella Brooke, 147-169. 

I. "Miscellaneous Plays," by Mrs Joanna Baillie (149). II. K per- 
fect Reticule — Bridgewater Treatise by Dr Roget — Natural History less 
dependent on other Sciences than Astronomy — or Comparative Anatomy ; 
\\ ant of Reality in the Poetry of Mrs Hemans — Excess of this Quality in 
Crabbe (150- 152). 111. Etymology of Plat and Plait — The Plaits (or 

) of a Lady's Hair, and the Plaits of her Gown, originally the same 
Word, though different in Meaning and Pronunciation — A Social Sun- 
beam (152-154). IV. " Clever" People not always thinking People — 
Serious Reflections suggested by the receipt of Taylor's "Holy Living 
and Dying," as a Present from a Friend — Sympathy more to be prized than 
Admiration — " The Boy and the Birds," and the " Story without an End" 

Contents. ix 

— A Critic's Foible (154-156). V. A Visit to Devonshire — Advantage 
of frequent Intercourse among Relations — Forebodings of IIS soon 

realised —Maternal Cares and Interests — Interruption of her Journey home- 
(156-159). VI. "Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall 
becomforted" (159-161). VII. "The Shaping Spirit of Imagination" 
(161). VIII. Speculations on Life and Organisation — Life considered as 
the connecting Link between Mind and Matter— Mr Coleridge's Application 
of this View to the Scriptural Narratives of Demoniacal Possession ; 
to the Christian Doctrine of the Resurrection (162-166). IX. "The 

Remains "—Metaphysics like Alum (166, 167). X. Abbott's "Cor- 

ner Stone," and other Religious Wurks — Comparison of Archbishop 
Whatley with Dr Arnold, in their mode of setting forth the Evidences of 
Christianity — Verbosity of Dr Chalmers — Value of the Greek Language as 
an Instrument of Mental Cultivation (167-169). 

CHAPTER VI.— 1837. 


Mrs H . M. Jones 171-202. 

I. Difference between the Italian Satiric Toets and their English imi- 
tators (1 II. Insatisfactoriness of Desultory Correspondence — 
" I'hantasmion, a Romance of Fairyland" — Defence of Fairy Tale^ by 
I Is — Books about Children not often I!ooks_/e>- Children — Incon- 
gruous Effect of Scripture Lessons, intermixed with Nursery Talk and 
Doings — Christianity best taught by a Mother out of the Bible and 1'rayer- 
. — "Newman's Sermons" — "Maurice's Letters to the Quakers." 
(173-177). III. "Mary and Florence, or, Grave and Gay," a Tale 
for Children — Right Interpretation of St John iii. 8 — Heavenly 'II 
should be set before Children, both "plainly" and "by a I'ar.r 
(178, 179). IV. Regent's Park (179, 180). V. Dryden's censure 
of Ovid, on the score of the rhetorical Expressions attributed to the dying 
Narcissus — His Observations not true to Nature, nor applicable to the 
case in question — Definition of "Force" and "Liveliness" in Poetry — 
The Homeric Mythology not Allegorical — Symbolical Character of the 
Imagery of Milton and Wordsworth — Originality of Virgil (1S0-1X4). 
VI. " Parochial Sermons" by John Henry Newman— Power and Iieauty 
of his Style — Tendency of his Teaching to exalt the Passive rather than 
the active Qualities of Humanity — the Operation of Divine Grace on the 
Soul is a Mystery, the visible effect whereof is Holiness — But Writ' 

x Contents. 

the Oxford School appear to represent the Effect as no less invisible than 
the Cause — The Ordinance of Preaching (184-189). VII. Graphic 

Style of the Old Testament Narratives — Greek and Roman History less 
Objective. (189, 190). VIII. " Phantasmion " a Descriptive Piece; 
not an Allegory, or Moral Tale — Want of Artistic Unity in Goethe's 
Faust (190-192). IX. Preparation for the study of Divinity — Tendency 
to Discursiveness inherited from her Father (192, 193). X. A view, 
of Grasmere — "Prosy" Letters Preferred to Practical ones — Inefficiency 
of Dames' Schools, and even of National Schools, as at that time con- 
ducted — Effect of Church Principles and Practices, in giving a Religious 
tone to a School (193-195). XL Conservative Replies to some 

Arguments of the Radical Party — The British Constitution not originally 
Popular but Paternal — An appeal to Universal Suffrage not an appeal to 
Collective Wisdom of the age, but to its Collective Ignorance — " The 
majority will be always in the right;" but not till it has adopted the views 
of the Minority — Despotism of the mob in America regretted by many 
Americans — English Government not a mere machine for registering Votes 
— How are the People to be trained to a right Exercise of their Liberties ? 
— '■'■Govern them, and lift them up for ever" (195-201). XII. 

Insanity — Intermediate State of the Departed not distinctly revealed in 
Scripture (201, 202). 

CHAPTER VII.— 1838. 

Letters to her Husband, to Mrs Joshua Stanger, Mrs 
Plummer, Miss A. Brooke, Miss Trevenen 203-220. 

I. Letter of Condolence to a Friend on the Death of a Brother 
(205-207). IT. Mr Gillman's Life of her Father — Earlier Development 

df Mr ( loleridge's Mind in the Direction of Poetry than in that of Theolo- 
gical Research (207, 208). III. Blessing of Fraternal Affection — 
Danger to which it is exposed from Human Infirmity (208, 209). IV. 

Seaside Occupations — Bathing: Childish Timidity not to be cured by 
Compulsion — Letter-writing : Friendly Letters, like Visits, not mere 
Vehicles for News (209-211). V. The History of Rome, by Dr 
Arnold- -The Study of Divinity, Poetry, and Physiology, preferred to that 
of History or Politics— Christian Theology as an Intellectual System, 
1 mi Metaphysics — Importance of Right Views on these Subjects — 
National Education the proper Work of the Church (211-214). VI. 
Literary Varieties — Spirituality of Northern Nations, and Metaphysical 

Contents. xi 

Subtlety of the Greeks (214). VII. Miracle of the Raising of Lazarus 
■ lover by the Synoptical Gospels (215). VIII. Connection be- 

tween the Senses ami the Mind — Poetic Genius implies a sensitive Organi- 
zation — Early Greatness of great Poets — Poetic Imagination of Plato 
brought to bear upon Abstract Ideas (215, 216). IX. Treasun 
English Literature— Arnold's "Rome" (216,217). X. The Homeric 
Ithaca — Autobiographical Air of the Odyssey (217, 218). XI. De- 

scription of the Falls of Niagara in Miss Martineau's "Retrospect of 
_rn Travel" (21S, 219). XII. Lukewarm Christians (219, 220). 


Letters to her Husband, Mrs Plummer, Miss A. Brooke, 
Miss Trevexex 221-235. 

I. Characteristics of the Oxford School of Divines — Combination^, even 
for the best Purposes, not favourable to Truth — Superior Confidence in- 
spired by an Independent Thinker — Are Presbyterians Excluded from the 
Visible Church ? — Authority of Hooker cited against such a decision — 
Defence of the Title of Protestant — Luther : Injustice commonly done to 

1 haracter and Work (223-228). II. A Little Lecturer — Stam- 
mering a Nervous Affection, dependent on the Imagination (228-230). 
III. Philosophy of the " Excursion " (230). IV. Lord Byron on the 
Lake Poets. (230). Y. Writing to Order — Sunday Stories and Spanish 

lances (230, 231). VI. Pain more bearable when its Cause is 
Known — Books and Letters composed but never Written — Musings on 
Eternity — "We know not yet what we shall be" — Descriptions of Heaven, 
Symbolical, Material, and Spiritual — Conjectures of Various Writers re- 
specting the Condition of Departed Souls (231-235). 

CHAPTER IX.— 1840. 

Letters to her Husband, her eldest Brother, Mrs J. 
Stanger, Mrs H. M. Jones 237-246. 

I. Love of Books a Source of Happiness, and likely to be increased by 
Classical Studies (239). II. Lord Byron's Mazeppa and Manfred — 

xii Co7itents. 

His Success in Satire and in Sensational Writing (240). III. Practical 
View of the Duties of God-parents — Sponsorship now-a-days chiefly a 
Social Obligation (241,242). IV. On the Death of an Infant Daughter 
243, 244). V. "They sin who tell us love can die" (244). VI. A 
Sunset Landscape (245). VII. The true Art of Life (246). 

CHAPTER X.— 1841-1842. 

Letters to her Husband, Mrs Plummer, Mrs Thomas 
Farrer, Miss Trevenen, Mrs H. M. Jones, the Rev. 
Henry Moore, the Hon. Mr Justice Coleridge, 247-262 

I. Necessity of Patience and Hope in Education (249). II. The 
Lake Poets on Sport — The Life of Wesley a wonderful Book (249). 
III. Coolness of unimaginative People — Imagination, like Religion, "re- 
quires looking after" (250). IV. Inflexibility of the French Lan- 
guage — The Second Part of Faust ; its Beauties and Defects — Visionary 
Hopes (251, 252). V. Reminiscences of a Tour in Belgium — Hem- 
ling's " Marriage of St Catherine" at Bruges ; and Von Eyck's " Adora- 
tion of the Lamb" at Ghent — Devotional Gravity of the Early Flemish 
Painters ; and human Pathos of Rubens — Works of that Master, at Ant- 
werp and Mechlin (252-255). VI. Prayer for the Dead (255). VII. 
A Visit to Oxford (255, 256). VIII. Illness of her Husband, and 
1 >eath of his only Sister (256-259). IX. On the same Topics — Reli- 
gious Bigotry (259, 260). X. "Hope deferred" — Her Son at Eton 
(260). XL Resignation (261, 262). 

CHAPTER XL— 1843. 

Letters to her Son, her Eldest Brother, Mrs Gillman, 
Mrs J. Staxoer, Hon. Mr Justice Coleridge, Rev. 
Henry Moore, Edward Quillinan, Esq., Mrs Thomas 
Farrer, Miss Morris, Mrs H. M. Jones, 263-295. 

I. To her Son (265). II. Her Husband's Death — First meeting 
with him at Highgate (265, 266). III. On the same Subject — Trial 

Contents. xiii 

of a Mourner's Faith, and how it was met (267-270). IN'. Affectionate 
Kindness of Relatives and Friends — Special Gifts of a Christian Minister, 
in his Attendance upon the Sick and Dying (270273). Y. Memoir 
of Nicholas Ferrer (273, 2741. VI. A Quiet Heart (274, 275). 

VII. Monument of Robert Southey — Recumbent Statues (27:. 

VIII. On her Loss — Injury done to the Mind by brooding over Grief 
(276). IX. G . Will the best Consolation (278). X. New 
Friends- A Happy Pair (27 XI. Dryness of Controversial Ser- 
mons (2S0). XII. Preliminary Essay to the "Aids to Reflection,'' 
by the Rev. James Marsh — Her "Essay on Rationalism" — Consolation 
and Instruction derived from Theological Studies (2S1). XIII. A 
Visit to Margate — Domestic Economy in its Right Place — An Eton School- 
boy — Reading under Difficulties — High Moral Aim of Carlyle's " Hero- 
worship" — Joy of a True Christian — The Logic of the Heart and the Logic 
of the Head (2S2-286). XIV. Beauty of Sussex Scenery — Congenial 
Society (2S7). XV. Friendly Recollections and Anticipations (288). 

VI. On her Loss — Cheerfulness instead of Happiness — Visits to Eton 
and Tunbridge Wells (2S9-291). XVII. Sympathy inspired by the 

Sorrows of Childhood and Youth (291,292). XVIII. Restoration of 
the Jews — Literal Fulfilment of the Promise apparently Indicated by 
1 ment Prophecy, and by the Words of St Paul in his Epistle to 

the Romans (292-294). XIX. Readings in Aristophanes — Cheerfulness 

simplicity of Early Poetry (294, 295). 

CHAPTER XII.— 1844. 

Letters to Miss Morris, John Kenyon, Esq., Mrs Edward 

Coleridgk, Mrs Farrer, Mrs J. Stanger, 297-315. 

I. •'Travelling Onwards''— Differences of Mental Perspective in the Con- 
templation of Truth — Doctrine of the Millennium — Symbolsim in the 
Bible— " Messiah's Kingdom" and the "Reign of the Saints," both 
signify the Establishment of Christianity — Literal Explanation of the 
latter Prophecy by some of the Fathers, not founded on Tradition (299- 
301). II. Critique on the Early Poems of Elizabeth Barrett (Mrs 

Browning) — Favourite Pieces — Exuberance of her Style inappropriate to 

Solemn Themes — Hasty Objections made by Miss H to the Ideal 

Philosophy of Berkeley, and to the Wolfian Theory of Homer (301-305). 
III. Gladsoraeness a Natural Gift of Childhood — Severe Discipline not 

I— b 

xiv Contents. 

suited to the Period of Early Youth (305,306). IV. The Temple 

Church — Colour in Architecture (371). V. Use of Metrical Rules in 
Poetry— Versification of " Christabel" and "The Ancient Mariner" — 
Artificial Character of some of the Greek Metres (307,308). VI. The 
"Life of Arnold" a Book to be "gloried in"— The Visible Church, not 
to be Identified with any Single System — Dr Arnold's Opinion that there 
ought to be no Distinction between the Clergy and the Laity (308, 309). 
VII. "Nothing to do" — Isaac Taylor's Suggestion that there will be 
Work as well as Rest in Heaven— Seaside Views and Walks — Fellow- 
Lodgers — Idleness and Extravagance of London Shopkeepers — Two Sorts 
of Diffuseness — Lord Eldon — Reflections on his Character and Portrait 
(310.314). VIII. Religious Discussion Necessary to the Church ; and 
Useful, under certain Conditions, to the Individual Christian (314, 315). 


Letters to the Hon. Mr Justice Coleridge, Hartley- 
Coleridge, Esq., Aubrey de Vere, Esq., Miss Morris, 
Miss Erskine, Mrs Farrer, the Hon. Mrs Henry 
Taylor, 317-353- 

I. Memories of her Native Vale — The "Quarterly Review" a greater 
Authority on Practical than on Poetical Matters — Dr Arnold as a Man 
and a Writer — His peculiar Theory of Church and State — Definition of 
Humility and Modesty, suggested by a Note in the " Northern Worthies" 
(3I9-323). 1 1 ■ The Royal Academy of 1845— Turner's Painting (323- 

325). III. Visitors before Luncheon (325, 326). IV. Interpreta- 
tions of Scripture Prophecies by Writers of the Evangelical School — Anti- 
chri.stian Character of the Papacy supposed to be predicted by the " Little 
Horn" in the Book of Daniel, the " Man of Sin" in the Second Epistle to 
the Thessalonians, and "Babylon the Great" in the Revelations — Con- 
tents of the Sixth Vial — Shelley's Atheism — Not Papal but Pagan Rome 
the real Object of the Apocalyptic Denunciations (326-330). V. Occa- 
I Recurrence of Millennial Preachings — Unpractical Nature of the 
Doctrine — Bearing of the Parable of the Ten Virgins on this Subject — Va- 
rious Styles of Contemporary Divines (331, 332). VI. Dr Pusey's 
Preaching (332). VII. Sunset over the Sea (333). VIII. Can- 

terbury Cathedral, and St Augustine's College (333). IX. Re-union 

of Christendom — The Romish Clergy and the Roman Church (334337). 

Contents. XX 

X. "New Heavens and a New Earth" (337-339)- XI. Poetry of 
Keats : it- Beauties and Defects—" The Grecian Urn" and " Endymion" 
(339-344). XII. Sudlcn Death of her Mother — Reflections on the Event 
(344, 345). XIII. Peculiar Sense of Solitude arising from the loss of a 
Parent — Editorial Labours on the " Biographia Literaria" — Mr Coleridge's 
immense Reading ; and Striking Quotations made from obscure Authors 
(345-347)- XIV - " S. I • C. on the Body"— The Essential Principle of 
Life not dependent on the Material Organism— Teaching of St Paul on 
this Point — The Glorified Humanity of Christ — Disembodied Souls — Na- 
tural Regrets arising from the Thought of our great Change (347"35 2 )- 

M E M 01 R. 






/// a Letter addressed to her Daughter. 

- -»•♦--•-«- 


September Zth, 1S51, 
Chester Pit 

MY Dl r E , 

I have long wished to give you a little 
sketch of my life. I once intended to have given it 
with much particularity, but now time presses* — my 
horizon has contracted of late. I must content myself 
with a brief compendium. 

I shall divide my history into childhood, earlier and 
later, youth, earlier and later, wedded life, ditto, widow- 
hood, ditto, and I shall endeavour to state the chief 
moral or reflection suggested by each — some maxim 
which it specially illustrated, or truth which it exempli- 
fied, or warning which it suggested. 

My father has entered his marriage with my mother, 
and the births of my three brothers with some particu- 

* This fragment of autobiography \ un during my mother's 

last illness, eight months before her death. — E.C. 

2 Memoir and Letters of Sara Coleridge. 

larity in a Family Bible, given him, as he also notes, by 
Joseph Cottle on his marriage ; the entry of my birth is 
in my dear mother's handwriting, and this seems like an 
omen of our lifelong separation, for I never lived with 
him for more than a few weeks at a time. He lived not 
much more, indeed, with his other children, but most of 
their infancy passed under his eye. Alas ! more than 
any of them I inherited that uneasy health of his, 
which kept us apart. But I did not mean to begin with 
alas ! so soon, or so early to advert to the great mis- 
fortune of both our lives — want of bodily vigour, 
adequate to the ordinary demands of life, even under 
favourable circumstances. 

I was born at Greta Hall, near Keswick, December 
22nd, 1802. My brother Hartley was then six years and 
three months, born September 19th, 1796, at Bristol; 
Derwent, born Sept. 14th, 1800, at Keswick, four years 
and three months old. My father, Samuel Taylor 
Coleridge (married at Bristol, October 4th, 1795, to 
Sarah Fricker, eldest daughter of Mr Fricker, of 
Bristol), was now twenty-nine years of age, my 
mother thirty-one. Their second child Berkeley, born at 
Nether Stowcy, May 10th, 1798, died while my father 
was in Germany, February I Oth, 1799, in consequence 
of a cold caught after inoculated small-pox, which 
brought on decline. Mama used to tell me mother's 
tales, which, however, were confirmed by my Aunt 
Lovell, of this infant's noble and lovely style of beauty, 
his large, soft eyes, of a " London-smoke " colour, ex- 
quisite complexion, regular features and goodly size. 
She said that my father was very proud of him, and 

Little Grand-Lamas. 3 

one day, when he saw a neighbour approaching his little 

cottage at Stowey, snatched him away from the nurse 
half-dressed, and with a broad smile of pride and 
delight, presented him to be admired. In her lively 

way, she mimicked the tones of satisfaction with which 
he uttered, " this is my second son." Yet, when the 
answer was, " Well, this is something like a child," he 
felt affronted on behalf of his little darling Hartley, 

During the November, and great part of December, 
previous to my birth, my father was travelling in Corn- 
wall with Mr Tom Wedgewood, as I learn by letters 
from him to my mother. The last of the set is dated 
December 1 6th, and in it my father speaks as if he ex- 
pected to be at Ambleside, Thursday evening, December 
23d. He writes with great tenderness to my mother on 
the prospect of her confinement. I believe he reached 
home the day after my birth. Several of his letters, the 
last three, are from Crescelles, the house of Mr Allan, 
father of Lady Mackintosh and of Mrs Drew, the brother 
of 1 Vlderson. 

Mama used to tell me that, as a young infant, I 
was not so fine and flourishing as Berkeley, who was of 
a taller make than any of her other children, or Der- 
went, though not quite so small as her eldest born. I 
was somewhat disfigured with red gum. In a few 
months, however, I became very presentable, and had 
my share of adoration. " Little grand-lamas," my 
father used to call babes in arms, feeling doubtless all 
the while what a blessed contrivance of the Supreme 
Benignity it is that man, in the very weakest stage of 
his existence, has power in that very weakness. Then 

4 Memoir and Letters of Sara Coleridge. 

babyhood, even where attended with no special grace, 
has a certain loveliness of its own, and seems to be 
surrounded, as by a spell, in its attractions for the 
female heart, and for all hearts which partake of 
woman's tenderness, and whose tenderness is drawn 
out by circumstances in that particular direction. 

My father wrote thus of Hartley and of me in a 
letter to Mr Poole of 1803: — "Hartley is what he 
always was, a strange, strange boy, 'exquisitely wild,' 
an utter visionary, like the moon among thin clouds he 
moves in a circle of light of his own making. He alone 
is a light of his own. Of all human beings I never saw 
one so utterly naked of self. He has no vanity, no 
pride, no resentments ; and, though very passionate, I 
never yet saw him angry with anybody. He is, though 
seven years old, the merest child you can conceive ; and 
yet Southey says he keeps him in perpetual wonder- 
ment ; his thoughts are so truly his own. His dis- 
positions are very sweet, a great lover of truth, and of 
the finest moral nicety of feelings; and yet always 
dreaming. He said very prettily, about half a-year 
ago, on my reproving him for some inattention, and 
asking him if he did not see something: 'My father,' 
quoth he with flute-like voice, ' I see it — I saw it, and 
to-morrow I shall see it again when I shut my eyes, and 
when my eyes are open, and I am looking at other 
things ; but, father, it is a sad pity, but it cannot be 
helped, you know ; but I am always being a bad boy 
when I am thinking of my thoughts.' If God preserve 
his life for me, it will be interesting to know what he will 

Fall into the Greta. 5 

become ; for it is not only my opinion, or the opinion 
of two or of three, but all who have been with him 
talk of him as a thing that cannot be forgotten." 

" My meek little Sara is a remarkably interesting 
baby, with the finest possible skin, and large blue eyes ; 
and she smiles as if she were basking in a sunshine, as 
mild as moonlight, of her own quiet happiness." 

In the same letter my father says : " Southey I like 
more and more. He is a good man, and his industry is 
stupendous; take him all in all, his regularity and 
domestic virtues, genius, talent, acquirements, and know- 
ledge, and he stands by himself." 

Of this first stage of my life, of course, I have no 
remembrance ; but something happened to me, when 
I was two years old, which was so striking as to leave 
an indelible trace on my memory. I fancy I can even 
recall, though it may be but the echo or reflection 
of past remembrances, my coming dripping up the 
forge field, after having fallen into the river, between 
the rails of the high wooden bridge that crossed the 
Greta, which flowed behind the Greta Hall hill. The 
maid had my baby-cousin Edith, sixteen months 
inger than I, in her arms ; I was rushing away from 
Derwent, who was fond of playing the elder brother on 
the strength of his two years' seniority, when he was 
trying in some way to control me, and in my hurry 
slipped from the bridge into the current. Luckily for 
me young Richardson was still at work in his father's 
,e. He doffed his coat and rescued me from the 
water. I had fallen from a considerable height, but the 

6 Memoir and Letters of Sara Coleridge. 

strong current of the Greta received me safely. I re- 
member nothing of this adventure but the walk home 
through the field. I was put between blankets on my 
return to the house ; but my constitution had received 
a shock, and I became tender and delicate, having 
before been a thriving child. As an infant I had been 
nervous and insomnolent. Mv mother has often told 
me how seldom I would sleep in the cradle, how I 
required to be in her arms before I could settle into 
sound sleep. This weakness has accompanied me 
through life. 

One other glimpse of early childhood my mind re- 
tains. I can just remember sitting by my Aunt 
Lovell in her little downstairs wingroom, and exclaim- 
ing in a piteous tone, " I'se miseral ! " A poor little, 
delicate, low-spirited child I doubtless was, with my 
original nervous tendencies, after that escape from the 
Greta. " Yes, and you will be miserable," Aunt Lovell 
compassionately broke out, as mama has told me, " if 
your mother doesn't put you on a cap." The hint was 
taken, and I wore a cap till I was eight years old. I 
appear in a cap, playing with a doll, in a little miniature 
taken of me at that age by the sister of Sir William 
Benthorn, who also made portraits in the same style of 
my Uncle and Aunt Southey, my mother, Aunt Lovell, 
and Cousins Edith and Herbert. 

I cannot leave this period of my existence without 
some little allusion to my brother Dcrwent's sweet child- 
hood. I have often heard from mama what a fine, fair, 
broad-chested little fellow he was at two years old, and 

"Pi-pos t Pot-pos." 7 

how he got the name of Stump}- Canary when ho wore a 
yellow frock, which made him look like one of these 
feathery bundles in colour and form. I fancy I see him 
now, as my mother's description brought him before me, 
racing from kitchen to parlour, and from parlour to kit- 
chen, just putting in his head at the door, with roguish 
smile, to catch notice, then off again, shaking his little- 
sides with laughter. Mr Lamb and his sister, who paid 
a visit of three weeks to my parents in the summer of 
1802, were charmed with the little fellow, and much 
struck with the quickness of eye and of memory that 
he displayed in naming the subjects of prints in books 
which he was acquainted with. " Pi-pos, Pot-pos," were 
his names for the striped or spotted opossum, and 
these he would utter with a nonchalant air, as much as 
to say, " Of course I know it all as pat as possible." 
" David Lesley, Deneral of the Cock Army," was another 
of his familiars. Mr Lamb calls him " Pi-pos" in letters 
to Greta Hall, after his visit to the Lakes. 

ty parents came to Keswick in 1801. My father 
writes to my uncle Southey, urging his joining him in 
the North, and describing Greta Hall, April 13th, 1801. 
See Southey 's Life, vol. ii., p. 146. 

I find in a letter of mama to Aunt Lovell, written, 
but not sent, this record of early Greta Hall times : — 

"Well, after poor Mrs Southey 's* death you all 

removed to Bristol, where the first child, Margaret, was 

born and died. Soon after this period Southey, Edith, 

and you (Mrs Lovell) came to Keswick. How well I 

*The mother of Robert Southey. — E.C. 

8 Memoir and Letters of Sara Coleridge. 

recollect your chaise driving up the Forge Field ! The 
driver could not find the right road to the house, so he 
came down Stable Lane, and in at the Forge Gate. 
My Sara was seven months old, very szvcct, and her 
uncle called her " Fat Sal." 

" My husband, I think, was then in Malta, where he 
remained three years, there and in Sicily and Rome. 
Soon after his return in the autumn of 1806, Coleridge 
went away with Hartley to the Wordsworths at Cole- 
orton ; thence he went to London, and wrote to me to 
bring the other two children to Bristol, and wait there 
in College Street at Martha's with mother till he should 
join us to go to Stowey and Ottery together. Accord- 
ingly, I set off to Penrith, stayed a night at old Miss 
Monkhouse's, and next day proceeded towards Liver- 
pool, where we were met by Dr Crompton's carriage, 
and taken to Eton Hall, four miles out of Liverpool, 
where we stayed a fortnight, to the great happiness of 
Derwent and Sara. Thence we got to Birmingham, 
stayed a few days with the Misses Lawrence, saw Joseph 
Lovell and wife and children, and then proceeded to 
Bristol, to Martha's in College Street. 

" After some time Samuel Taylor Coleridge brought 
Hartley from London to join us, and we five all pro- 
ceeded to Stowey, to Mr Boole's most hospitable abode, 
remaining most pleasantly with him for more than two 
months, and did not go to Ottery at all. (I believe they 
had illness there). We made visits to Ashhall (Mr 
Brice's), to Bridgewater, at the Chubbs'. Then I, with 
my children, returned to Bristol, hoping to be rejoined 

/ *isit to the SontJi. 9 

by father. At length he came, but was not for return- 
ing with us to Keswick. We set forward with Mr De 
Quincey to Liverpool, where we (i.e., myself and children) 
remained a few days with the Koster family, and were 
again joined by Mr De Quince}-, and reached Grasmere, 
where we were joyfully received by the Wordsworths at 
their cottage, and the next day took a chaise to Kes- 
wick, on which occasion poor Hartley was so afraid that 
he should not again be a pet of dear friend Wilsy,* that 
he screamed out of a window of the chaise, ' O Wilsy, 
Wilsy, let me sleep with you !'" 

I was in my fifth year during this visit to the South, 
and my remembrances are partial and indistinct glimpses 
of memory, islanded amid the sea of non-remembrance. 
I recollect more of Derwent than of Hartley, and have 
an image of his stout build, and of his resolute, manag- 
ing way, as we played together at Bristol. I remember 
Mrs Perkins, with her gentle Madonna countenance, and 
walking round the Square with her daughter, who gave 
me currants when we came round to a certain point. I 
have faint recollections, too, of Stowey, and of staying 
at the Rosters' at Liverpool. At this time I was fond 
of reading the original poems of the Miss Taylors, and 
used to repeat some of them by heart to friends of 
mama's. Aunt Martha I thought a fine lady on our 
first arrival at College Street. She wore a white veil — 
so it seems to my remembrance — when I first saw her. 
I can but just remember Aunt Eliza, then at Mrs Wat- 
son's, and that there was an old lad)-, very invalidish, 

* Mrs Wilson, the landlord's housckcxpi-r. — See Mcinuir <A Hartley 
iridge, p. xxix. — E.C. 

io Memoir and Letters of Sara Coleridge. 

at College Street, Mrs Flicker, my mother's mother. 
At this time I could not eat meat, except bacon. 

My brothers were allowed to amuse themselves with 
the noble art of painting, which they practised in the 
way of daubing with one or two colours, I think chiefly 
scarlet, over any bit of a print or engraving in vol., or 
out of it, that was abandoned to their clutches. It was 
said of Derwent, that upon one of these pictorial occa- 
sions, after diligently plying his brush for some time, 
he exclaimed, with a slow, solemn, half-pitying, half 
self-complacent air, " Thethe little minute thingth are 
very difficult ; but they mutht be done ! ethpethially 
thaitJics /"* This "mutht be done /" conveyed an awful 
impression of resistless necessity, the mighty force of a 
principled submission to duty, with a hint of the ex- 
hausting struggles and trials of life. 

Talking of struggles and trials of life, my mother's 
two unmarried sisters were maintaining themselves at 
this time by their own labours. Aunt Martha, the 
elder, a plain, but lively, pleasing woman, about five feet 
high, or little more, was earning her bread as a dress- 
maker. She had lived a good deal with a farmer, in 
the country, Uncle Hendry, who married Edith Pricker, 
her father's sister ; but not liking a female-farmer mode 
of life, came to Bristol, and fitted herself for the busi- 
ness. Uncle Hendry left her a small sum of money, 
some hundreds, and would have done more, doubtless, 
had she remained with him. Burnet offered marriage 
to my Aunt Martha, during the agitation of the Pantis- 

* i.e., chaises. — E.G. 

Martha and Eliza Fricker. 1 1 

ocracy scheme. She refused him scornfully, seeing that 
he only wanted a wife in a hurry, not her individually 

of all the world. 

Aunt Eliza, a year or twenty months younger, about 
the same height, or but a barleycorn above it, was 
thought pretty in youth, from her innocent blue eyes, 
ingenuous florid countenance, fine light-brown hair, and 
easy light motions. She was not nearly so handsome 
in face, however, as my mother and Aunt Lovell, and 
had not my Aunt Southey's fine figure and quietly 
commanding air. Yet, on the whole, she was very 
feminine, pleasing, and attractive. Both sisters sang, 
but had never learned music artistically. 

Such were my Aunts Martha and Elizabeth Fricker 
in youth ; but they had sterling qualities, which gave 
their characters a high respectability. Without talent, 
except of an ordinary kind, without powerful connec- 
tions, by life-long perseverance, fortitude, and deter- 
mination, by prudence, patience, and punctuality, they 
not only maintained themselves, but, with a little aid from 
kind friends, whom their merits won, they laid by a 
comfortable competency for their old age. They asked 
few favours, accepted few obligations, and were most 
scrupulous in returning such as they did accept, as soon 
as possible. They united caution and discretion with 
perfect honesty and truth, strict frugality and self-con- 
trol, with the disposition to be kind and charitable, and 
even liberal, as soon as ever it was in their power. 
Their chief faults were pride and irritability of temper. 
Upon the whole, they were admirable women. I say 


Memoir and Letters of Sara Coleridge. 

were ; but one, Aunt Eliza Fricker, still survives, in the 
Isle of Man. Aunt Martha died of paralysis, at the 
Isle of Man, September 26, 1850, at the age of seventy- 
three. Aunt Eliza is ailing ; she must be seventy-three, 
I believe now, or seventy-two.* 

Our return to Greta Hall has left an image on my 
mind, and a pleasant one. I can just remember enter- 
ing the parlour, seeing the urn on the table, and tea 
things laid out, and a little girl, very fair, with thick- 
yellow hair, and round, rosy cheeks, seated, I think, on 
■a stool near the fire. This was my cousin Edith, and I 
thought her quite a beauty. She looked very shy at 
first, but ere long we were sociably travelling round the 
room together on one stool, our joint vessel, and our 
childish noise soon required to be moderated. I was 
five years old, the Christmas after this return, which, I 
believe, was latish in autumn. I remember how Mr De 
Quincey jested with me on the journey, and declared I 
was to be his wife, which I partly believed. I thought 
he behaved faithlessly in not claiming my hand. I will 
now describe the home of my youth, clear Greta Hall, 
where I was born, and where I resided till my marriage, 
at twenty-six years of age, in September 1829. It was 
built on a hill, on one side of the town of Keswick, 
having a large nursery garden in front. The gate at 
the end of this garden opened upon the end of the 
town. A few steps further was the bridge over the 
Greta. At the back of Greta Hall was an orchard of 

Mi- Fricker died at Ramsay, in the Isle of Man, in September 
1S6S.— E.C. 

Greta Hall Garden. i 


not very productive apple-trees and plum-trees. B< 
this a wood stretched down to the river side. A rough 
path ran along the bottom of the wood, and led, on the 
one hand (the Skiddaw side of the vale), to the Card- 
ingmill Field, which the river near by surrounded ; on 
the other hand, the path led below the Forge Field, on 
to the Forge. Oh, that rough path beside the Greta ! 
. much of my childhood, of my girlhood, of my 
youth, was spent there ! 

But to return to the house. Two houses inter-con- 
nected under one roof, the larger part of which my • 
parents and my Uncle and Aunt Southey occupied, 
while the smaller was the abode of Mr Jackson, the 
landlord. On the ground floor was the kitchen, a 
cheerful, stone-flagged apartment, looking into the back 
place, which was skirted by poultry- and other out- 
houses, and had trees on the side of the orchard, from 
whence it was separated by a g< >< >seberry hedge. There 
was a drooping laburnum tree outside our back-kitchen, 
just in the way as you passed to the Forge Field portion 
of the kitchen garden. 

sage ran from the kitchen to the front-door, and 
to the left of this passage was the parlour, which was 
the dining-room and general sitting-room. This apart- 
ment had a large window, looking upon the green, 
which stretched out in front, in the form of a long In 
shoe, with a flower-bed running round it, and fenced 
off from the great nursery garden by pales and high 
shrubs and hedges. There was another smaller wind' »w, 
which looked out upon another grass plot. The room 

14 Memoir and Letters of Sara Coleridge. 

was comfortably but plainly furnished, and contained 
many pictures, two oil landscapes, by a friend, and 
several water-colour landscapes. One recess was occu- 
pied by a frightful portrait of mama, by a young lady. 

The passage ran round the kitchen, and opened into 
two small rooms in one wing of the rambling tenement, 
one which Aunt Lovell sat in by day, and another which 
held the mangle, had cupboards as a pantry, but was 
called the mangling-room. Here were kept the lanterns 
and all the array of clogs and pattens for out-of-door 
roamings. The clog shoes were ranged in a row, from 
the biggest to the least, and curiously emblemed the 
various stages of life. 

The staircase, to the right of the kitchen, which you 
ascended from the passage, led to a landing-place filled 
with bookcases, a few steps more led to a little bedroom 
which mama and I occupied ; that dear bedroom where 
I laydown, in joy or in sorrow, nightly for so manyyears of 
comparative health and happiness, whence I used to hear 
the river flowing, and sometimes the forge hammer in 
the distance, at the end of the field; but seldom other 
sounds in the night, save of stray animals. A few steps 
further was a little wing bedroom, — then the study, where 
my uncle sat all day occupied with literary labours and 
researches, but which was used as a drawing-room for 
company. Here all the tea-visiting guests were received. 
The room had three windows, a large one looking down 
upon the green with the wide flower-border, and over 
to Keswick Lake and mountains beyond. There were 
two smaller windows looking toward the lower part 

Greta Hall Drawing-room. i 5 

of the town seen beyond the nursery-garden. The 
m was lined with books in fine bindings ; there 
were books also in brackets, elegantly lettered vel- 
lum-covered volumes lying on their sides in a heap. 
The walls were hung with pictures, mostly portraits, 
miniatures of the family and some friends by Miss Ben- 
thorn ; of Uncle and Aunt Southey by Downman, now 
engraved for the Life of Southey; of my cousin Edith 
and me by "Mr Nash ; and the three children, Bertha, 
Kate, and Isabel, by the same hand. At the back of 
the room was a comfortable sofa, and there were sundry 
tables, beside my uncle's library table, his screen, desk, 
&c. Altogether, with its internal fittings up, its noble 
outlook, and something pleasing in its proportions, this 
was a charming room. I never have seen its like, I 
think, though it would look mean enough in my eyes, as 
a mere room, could I see it now, as to size, furnishing, 
&c. The curtains were of French grey merino, the fur- 
niture-covers, at one time, buff; I cannot tell what they 
were latterly. My uncle had some fine volumes of en- 
gravings, which were sometimes shown to visitors ; espe- 
cially, I remember, Duppa's sketches from Raffaelle and 
Michel Angelo from the Vatican. 

On the same floor with the stud)- and wing bedrooms 
was a larger bedroom above the kitchen, looking into 
the backyard. This was my uncle and aunt's sleeping 
apartment. A passage, one side of which was filled 
with bookshelves, led to the Jackson part of the hou 
the whole of which after his decease (and some rooms 
before) belonged to our party. There was a room which 

1 6 Memoir and Letters of Sara Coleridge. 

used to be my father's study, called the organ room, from 
an old organ which Mr Jackson placed there ; a bedroom 
generally occupied by Aunt Lovell looking into the 
backplace ; this was a comfortable but gloomyish room. 
At the end was a wing bedroom. Thence stairs led 
down to Wilsy's bedroom, Hartley's parlour, Wilsy's 
kitchen and back-kitchen. 

In the highest storey of the house were six rooms, a 
nursery, nursery bedroom, maid's bedroom, another occu- 
pied by Kate and Isabel at one time, a sort of lumber- 
room, and a dark appleroom, which used to be supposed 
the abode of a bogle. Then there was a way out upon 
the roof, and a way out upon the leads, over one wing of 
the house, whence we could look far out to the Penrith 
Road, Brow Top, and the Saddleback side of the region. 

I must now give one general sketch of the garden, of 
which scraps of description have already been attached 
to that of the house. It was very irregular. In front 
of the house and the two large windows of parlour and 
study, was the green, running out in the form of a long 
horse-shoe, with a wide border of flower-garden all round, 
and sheltered by a hedge. The kitchen garden was in 
two parts, on cither side of this lawn. There was green 
sward also on the side of the house containing the front 
door, and there were green palings inclosing this part of 
the premises. A few steps from the front door of the 
larger side of Greta Hall was the front door of the 
landlord side, and that wing of the building was covered 
with ivy. The parlour of that part of the house, long 
called Hartley's parlour, looked out on a piece of green 

Visit to Allan Bank. 1 7 

sward on the other side of our front door. From the 
back-place a path led along to the gate of the nursery- 
garden. To the right was another piece of green with a 
large copper beech at one end and a sort of shrubbery ; 
below that again a set of beds, which were given up to 
us children as our garden. 

That part of the kitchen-garden which lay below the 
hedge that bounded the lawn was divided into beds for 
the smaller vegetables, and there was at the lower end a 
little grove of raspberry bushes, white and red, and 
beyond this a plantation of underground artichokes, 
which ni)- uncle was fond of, and a gooseberry hedge 
called Hartley's, I think, for what reason I forget. Peas 
and beans were in the lower part of the garden abutting 
on the forge-field ; in the upper compartment were the 
strawberry beds. 

My young life is almost a blank in memory from that 
well-remembered evening of my return from our series 
of southern visits, till the time of my visit to Allan 
Bank, when I was six years old. That journey to Gras- 
mere gleams before me as the shadow of a shade. Some 
goings on of my stay there I remember more clearly. 
Allan Bank is a large house on a hill overlooking Ease- 
dale on one side, and Grasmere on the other. Dorothy, 
Mr Wordsworth's only daughter, was at this time very 
picturesque in her appearance, with her long, thick, yel- 
low locks, which were never cut, but curled with papers, 
a thing which seems much out of keeping with the poetic 
simplicity of the household. I remember being asked 

by my father and Miss Wordsworth, the pact's sister, if 
1 B 

1 8 Memoir and Letters of Sara Coleridge. 

I did not think her very pretty. ' No,' said I, bluntly"; 
for which I met a rebuff which made me feel as if I was 
a culprit. 

My father's wish it was to have me for a month 
with him at Grasmere, where he was domesticated with 
the Wordsworths. He insisted upon it that 1 became 
rosier and hardier during my absence from mama. 
She did not much like to part with me, and I think my 
father's motive, at bottom, must have been a wish to 
fasten my affections on him. I slept with him, and he 
would tell me fairy stories when he came to bed at 
twelve and one o'clock. I remember his telling me a 
wild tale, too, in his study, and my trying to repeat it 
to the maids afterwards. 

I have no doubt there was much enjoyment in my 
young life at that time, but some of my recollections 
are tinged with pain. I think my dear father was anxi- 
ous that I should learn to love him and the Words- 
worths and their children, and not cling so exclusively 
to my mother, and all around me at home. He was 
therefore much annoyed when, on my mother's coming 
to Allan Bank, I flew to her, and wished not to be sepa- 
rated from her any more. I remember his shewing dis- 
pleasure to me, and accusing me of want of affection. I 
could not understand why. The young Wordsworths 
came in and caressed him. I sate benumbed ; for truly 
nothing does so freeze affection as the breath of jealousy. 
The sense that you have done very wrong, or at least 
given great offence, you know not how or why — that 
you are dunned for some payment of love or feeling 

Political Discussions. IQ 

which you know not how to produce or to demonstrate 
on a sudden, chills the heart, and fills it with perplexity 

and bitterness. My father reproached me, and con- 
ted my coldness with the childish caresses of the 
little Wordsworths. I slunk away, and hid myself in 
the wood behind the house, and there my friend John, 
whom at that time I called my future husband, came to 
seek me. 

It was during this stay at Allan Bank that I used to 
see my father and Mr De Ouincey pace up and down 
the room in conversation. I understood not, nor listened 
to a word the)- said, but used to note the handkerchief 
hanging out of the pocket behind, and long to clutch it. 
Mr Wordsworth, too, must have been one of the room 
walkers. How gravely and earnestly used Samuel Tay- 
lor Coleridge and William Wordsworth and my uncle 
Southey also to discuss the affairs of the nation, as if it 
all came home to their business and bosoms, as if it were 
their private concern ! Men do not canvass these mat- 
ters now-a-days, I think, quite in the same tone. Do- 
mestic concerns absorb their deeper feelings, national 
ones are treated more as things aloof, the speculative 
rather than the practical. 

My father used fo talk to me with much admiration 
and affection of Sarah Hutchinson, Mrs Wordsworth's 
sister, who resided partly with the Wordsworths, partly 
with her own brothers. At this time she used to act as 
my father's amanuensis. She wrote out great part of the 
1 Friend' to his dictation. She had fine, long, light 
brown hair, I think her only beauty, except a fair skin, 

20 Memoir and Letters of Sara Coleridge. 

for her features were plain and contracted, her figure 
dumpy, and devoid of grace and dignity. She was a 
plump woman, of little more than five feet. I remem- 
ber my father talking to me admiringly of her long 
light locks, and saying how mildly she bore it when the 
baby pulled them hard in play. 

Miss Wordsworth, Mr Wordsworth's sister, of most 
poetic eye and temper, took a great part with the chil- 
dren. She told us once a pretty story of a primrose, I 
think, which she spied by the way-side when she went 
to see me soon after my birth, though that was at Christ- 
mas, and how this same primrose was still blooming 
when she went back to Grasmere. 

. . . My father had particular feelings and fancies 
about dress, as had my uncle Southey and Mr Words- 
worth also. He could not abide the scarlet socks which 
Edith and I wore at one time. I remember going to 
him when mama had just dressed me in a new stuff 
frock. He took me up, and set me down again without 
a caress. I thought he disliked the dress ; perhaps he 
was in an uneasy mood. He much liked everything 
feminine and domestic, pretty and becoming, but not 
fine-ladyish. My uncle Southey was all for gay, bright, 
cheerful colours, and even declared he had a taste for 
the grand, in half jest. 

Mr Wordsworth loved all that was rich and pictur- 
esque, light and free in clothing. A deep Prussian blue 
or purple was one of his favourite colours for a silk dress. 
He wished that white dresses were banished, and that 
our peasantry wore blue and scarlet and other warm 

The Lake Poets on Dress. 2 1 

colours, instead of sombre, dingy black, which converts 
a crowd that might be ornamental in the landscape into 
a swarm of magnified ants. I remember his saying how- 
much better young girls looked of an evening in bare 
arms, even if the arms themselves were not very lovely, 
it gave such a lightness to their general air. I think he 
was looking at Dora when he said this. White dresses 
he thought cold, a blot and disharmony in any picture, 
in door or out of door. My father admired white cloth- 
ing, because he looked at it in reference to woman, as 
expressive of her delicacy and purity, not merely as a 
component part of a general picture. 

My father liked my wearing a cap. He thought it 
looked girlish and domestic. Dora and I must have 
been a curious contrast, — she with her wild eyes, im- 
petuous movements, and fine, long, floating yellow hair, 
— I with my timid, large blue eyes, slender form, and 
little fair delicate face, muffled up in lace border and 
muslin. But I thought little of looks then ; only I 
fancied Edith S., on first seeing her, most beautiful. 

I attained my sixth year on the Christmas after this 
my first Grasmere visit. It must have been the next 
summer that I made my first appearance at the dancing 
school, of which more hereafter. All I can remember 
of this first entrance into public is, that our good- 
humoured, able, but rustical dancing-master, Mr Yew- 
dale, tried to make me dance a minuet with Charlie 
Denton, the youngest of our worthy pastor's home flock, 
a very pretty, rosy cheeked, large-black-eyed, compact 
little laddikin. But I was not quite up to the business. 

22 Memoir and Letters of Sara Coleridge. 

I think my beau was a year older. At all events, it 
was I who broke down, and Mr Yewdale, after a little 
impatience, gave the matter up. All teaching is 
wearisome ; but to teach dancing of all teaching the 

The last event of my earlier childhood which abides 
with me, is a visit to Allonby, when I was nine years 
old, with Mrs Calvert. I remember the ugliness and 
meanness of Allonby (the town, a cluster of red-looking 
houses, as far as I recollect,) and being laughed at at 
home for describing it as " a pretty place," which I did 
conventionally, according to the usual practice, as I 
conceived, of elegant letter writers. The sands are 
really fine in their way, so unbroken and extensive, 
capital for galloping over on pony-back. I recollect 
the pleasures of these sands, and of the seaside anima- 
tion and vegetation; the little close, white Scotch roses; 
the shells, the crabs of every size, from Lilliputian to 
Brobdignagian, crawling in the pools ; the sea-anemones 
with their flower-like appendages, which we kept in jugs 
of salt water, delighted to see them draw in their petals, 
or expand them by a sudden blossoming; the sea-weed 
with its ugly berries, of which we made hideous neck- 
laces. All these things I recollect, but not what I 
should most regard now, the fine forms of the Scotch 
hills on the opposite coast, sublime in the distance, and 
the splendid sunsets which give to this sort of landscape 
a gorgeous filling up. 

Of the party, beside J. and R. Calvert and M., their 
sister, were Tom and William M , two sons of Mrs 

/ r isit to Allonby. 


Calvert's sister, Mrs M . We used to gallop up and 

down the wide sands on two little ponies, a dark one 
called Sancho, and a light one called Airey, behind the 
boys. M. and I sometimes quarrelled with the boys, 
and, of course, in a trial of strength got the worst of it. 
I remember R. and the rest bursting angrily into our 
bedroom, and flinging a pebble at M. enraged at our 
having dared to put crumbs into their porridge ; not 
content with which inroad and onslaught, they put 
mustard into ours next morning, the sun having gone 
down upon their boyish wrath without quenching it. 
One of them said, it was all that little vixen, Sara 
Coleridge ; M. was quiet enough by herself. 

I had a leaven of malice, I suppose, in me, for I 
remember being on hostile terms with some little old 
woman, who lived by herself in a hut, and who took 
offence at something I did, as it struck me, unneces- 
sarily. She repaired to Mrs Calvert to complain, and 
the head and front of her accusation was, " that'un 
(meaning me) ran up and down the mound before her 
door." Mrs C. thought this no heinous offence ; but it 
was done by me, no doubt, with an air of derision. The 
crone was one of those morose, ugly, withered, ill-con- 
ditioned, ignorant creatures who in earlier times were 
-edited as witches, and tried to be such. Still, I 
ought to have been gently corrected for my behaviour, 
and told the duty of bearing with the ill-temper of the 
poor, and ignorant, and afflicted. 

At this time, on coming to Allonby, I was rather 
delicate. I remember that Mrs Calvert gave me a glass 

24 Memoir and Letters of Sara Coleridge. 

of port wine daily, which she did not give to the other 
children. Oh, me, how rough these young Calverts and 

M s were ! and yet they had a certain respect for 

me, mingled with a contrary feeling. I was honoured 
among them for my extreme agility, — my power of 
running and leaping. They called me " Cheshire cat " 
because I "grinned," said they. Almost as pretty as 
Miss Cheshire, said Tom M. to me one day, of some 
admired little girl. 

Such are the chief historical events of my little life up 
to nine years of age. But can I in any degree retrace 
what being I was then, what relation my then being held 
to my maturer self? Can I draw any useful reflection 
from my childish experience, or found any useful maxim 
upon it ? What was I ? In person very slender and 
delicate, not habitually colourless, but often enough pallid 
and feeble looking. Strangers used to exclaim about 
my eyes, and I remember remarks made upon their large 
size, both by my Uncle Southey and Mr Wordsworth. 
I suppose the thinness of my face, and the smallness 
of the other features, with the muffling close cap, in- 
creased the apparent size of the eye, for only artists, 
since I have grown up, speak of my eyes as large and 
full. They were bluer, too, in my early years than now. 
My health alternated, as it has done all my life, till the 
last ten or twelve years, when it has been unchangeably 
depressed, between delicacy and a very easy, comfortable 
condition. I remember well that nervous sensitiveness 
and morbid imaginativeness had set in with me very early. 
During my Grasmere visit I used to feel frightened at 

Night Fears-. 25 

night on account of the darkness. I then was a 
stranger to the whole host of night-agitators, ghosts, 
goblins, demons, burglars, elves, and witches. Horrid 
ghastly tales and ballads, of which crowds afterwards 
came in my way, had not yet cast their shadows over my 
mind. And yet I was terrified in the dark, and used to 
think of lions, the only form of terror which my dark- 
engendered agitation would take. My next bugbear 
was the Ghost in Hamlet. Then the picture of Death 
at Hell Gate in an old edition of Paradise Lost, the 
delight of my girlhood. Last and worst came my Uncle 
Southey's ballad horrors, above all the Old Woman of 
Berkeley. Oh, the agonies I have endured between nine 
and twelve at night, before mama joined me in bed, in 
presence of that hideous assemblage of horrors, the horse 
with eyes of flame ! I dare not, even now, rehearse 
these particulars, for fear of calling up some of the old 
feeling, which, indeed, I have never in my life been quite 
free from. What made the matter worse was that, like 
all other nervous sufferings, it could not be understood 
by the inexperienced, and consequently subjected the 
sufferer to ridicule and censure. My Uncle Southcy 
laughed heartily at my agonies. I mean at the cause. 
He did not enter into the agonies. Even mama 
scolded me for creeping out of bed after an hours 
torture, and stealing down to her in the parlour, saying 
I could bear the loneliness and the night-fears' no longer. 
But my father understood the case better. He insisted 
that a lighted candle should be left in my room, in the 
interval between my retiring to bed and mama's joining 

26 Memoir and Letters of Sara Coleridge. 

me. From that time forth my sufferings ceased. I be- 
lieve they would have destroyed my health had they 

Yet I was a most fearless child by daylight, ever ready 
to take the difficult mountain-path and outgo my com- 
panions' daring in tree-climbing. In those early days 
we used to spend much of our summer-time in trees, 
greatly to the horror of some of our London visitors. 

On reviewing my earlier childhood, I find the pre- 
dominant reflection 


THUS abruptly terminates, in the very middle of a sen- 
tence, the narrative of Sara Coleridge's childhood. The 
history of her wedded life and widowhood, which would 
have been of such deep interest as told by herself, had 
time and strength been granted, is, fortunately, to a 
great extent contained in her correspondence. In order, 
however, to combine the scattered notices of the letters, 
and put readers at once in possession of the main facts ; 
and still more, in order to provide some partial substi- 
tute for that chapter of her youth, which would other- 

Sketch by William Collins. 27 

wise remain a blank, it has seemed desirable to preface 
the correspondence by a slight biographical sketch. In 
doing this, I shall gratefully avail myself of the valuable 
reminiscences most kindly imparted to me by friends, 
both of earlier and later date, as well as of an interest- 
ing memoir of my mother which appeared shortly after 
her death in an American journal,* composed by one 
who, though personally unknown to her, was yet a highly 
emed correspondent, the lamented Professor Henry 
Reed of Philadelphia. 

In that dear home of her childhood, remembered with 
such loving minuteness after more than twenty years of 
absence, Sara Coleridge grew up as fair and sweet as 
one of the exquisite wild flowers of her native vale. 
The childish prettiness which had excited the admira- 
tion of her young play-fellows at Allonby, changed first 
into the maidenly bloom of fifteen; at which age she is 
mentioned by the painter William Collins, as "Colericl 
elegant daughter Sara, a most interesting creature," of 
whom he made a sketch, which was greatly admired by 
her lather for its simplicity and native refinement. It 
represents her in the character of the Highland Girl, 
seated in rustic fashion under a tree. Five years 
later these girlish graces had matured into a perfection 
of womanly beauty, which i.-> thus described by Sir 
Henry Taylor : — 

" I first saw your mother," he writes in a letter which 
I have lately had the pleasure of receiving from him, 

* "The Daughter of Coleridge," written for the Literary World, July 

28 Memoir and Letters of Sara Coleridge. 

"when in 1823 I paid my first visit to Mr Southey at 
Greta Hall, where she and her mother were staying. I 
suppose she was then about twenty years of age. I 
saw but little of her, for I think she was occupied in 
translating some mediaeval book from the Latin, and 
she was seen only at meals, or for a very short time in 
the evening ; and as she was almost invariably silent, I 
saw nothing and knew nothing of her mind, till I renewed 
my acquaintance with her many years after. But I 
have always been glad that I did see her in her girl- 
hood, because I then saw her beauty untouched by time, 
and it was a beauty which could not but remain in one's 
memory for life, and which is now distinctly before me 
as I write. The features were perfectly shaped, and 
almost minutely delicate, and the complexion delicate 
also, but not wanting in colour, and the general effect 
was that of gentleness, indeed I may say of composure, 
even to stillness. Her eyes were large, and they had 
the sort of serene lustre which I remember in her 

"After her marriage, I think, I did not see her till the 
days of her widowhood, in young middle life, when she 
was living in Chester Place, Regent's Park. Her beauty, 
though not lost, was impaired, and with the same stillness 
and absolute simplicity which belonged to her nature, 
there was some sadness which I had not seen before in 
the expression of her face, and some shyness of manner. 
I think I was myself shy, and this perhaps made her so, 
and the effect was to shut me out from the knowledge, 
by conversation, of almost any part of her mind and 

Reminiscences of Sir Henry Taylor. 29 

nature, except her intellect. For whenever she was shy, 
if she could not be silent, which was impossible when we 
were alone together, she fled into the region where she 
most at home and at ease, which was that of psycho- 
logy and abstract thought ; and this was the region 
where I was by no means at ease and at home. Had 
we met more frequently (and I never cease to wish 
that we had) no doubt these little difficulties would soon 
have been surmounted ; and we should have got into 
the fields of thought and sentiment which had an interest 
common to us both. But I was a busy man in these 
years, and not equal in health and strength to what I 
had to do, and it was in vain for me to seek her society, 
when I was too tired to enjoy it ; and then came her 
illness and her early death, and she had past away before 
I had attained to know her in her inner mind and life. 
I only know that the admirable strength and subtlety 
of her reasoning faculty shown in her writings and con- 
versation, were less to me than the beauty and simplicity 
and feminine tenderness of her face ; and that one or 
two casual and transitory expressions of her nature in her 
countenance, delightful in their poetic power, have come 
back to me from time to time, and that they are present 
with me now, when much of what was most to be 
admired in her intellectual achievements or discourse, 
have passed into somewhat of a dim distance." 

Of all the personal influences which had to do with 
the formation of my mother's mind and character in 
early life, by far the most important were those exercised 
by the two eminent men with whom she was so intim- 

2,o Memoir and Letters of Sara Coleridge. 

ately connected, by ties of kindred or affection, her 
uncle Southey, and her father's friend Mr Wordsworth. 
In attempting to estimate the value of these various im- 
pressions, and trace them to their respective source, I 
am but repeating her own remark when I say, that in 
matters of the intellect and imagination, she owed most 
to Mr Wordsworth. In his noble poetry she took an 
ever-increasing delight, and his impressive discourse, 
often listened to on summer rambles over the mountains, 
or in the winter parlours of Greta Hall and Rydal 
Mount, served to guide her taste, and cultivate her un- 
derstanding. But in matters of the heart and con- 
science, for right views of duty and practical lessons of 
industry, truthfulness and benevolence, she was " more, 
and more importantly, indebted to the daily life and 
example of her admirable Uncle Southey ; " whom she 
long afterwards emphatically declared to have been 
" upon the whole, the best man she had ever known." 

There is a third province of human nature beside 
those of the intellect and the moral sense, — that of the 
spiritual, where the pure spirit of Sara Coleridge 
breathed freely, as in an " ampler ether, a diviner air." 
In these serene and lofty regions she wandered hand in 
hand with her father, whose guidance she willingly fol- 
lowed, with a just confidence in his superior wisdom, 
yet with no blind or undiscriminating submission. He, 
like herself, was but a traveller through the heavenly 
country, whose marvels they explored together ; and 
the sun of Reason was above them both to light them 
on their way. In September 1825, when not quite 

Early Religious Views. 31 

three-and-twenty, she was reading the "Aids to Re- 
flection," "and delighted with all that she could clearly 
understand," as she says in a letter of that date to Sir 
John Taylor Coleridge. "Do you not think," she adds, 
with modest deference to the opinion of a highly re- 
spected elder cousin, "that in speaking of free will and 
the other mysteries of religion, my father, though he- 
does not attempt to explain what I suppose is inex- 
plicable, puts the subject in a new and comfortable 
point of view for sincere Christians ? " The " new and 
comfortable point of view," thus early perceived and 
adopted, was still more deeply appreciated, when years 
of experience and reflection had increased her sense of 
its importance. Led by circumstances, as well as by 
natural congeniality of mind, to a study of her father's 
philosophy, she then devoted herself, with all the fulness 
of matured conviction, to the task of illustrating tli 
great principles of Christian truth which it was the main 
object of his life to defend. If, in following this path, 
she approached the dusty arena of controversy (though 
without actually entering it), and watched the com- 
batants with approving or disapproving eye, it will yet, 
I believe, be acknowledged, even by those who differ 
most widely from her conclusions, that in her mode of 
reaching them she combined charity with candour. 
Possessing, as she did, a knowledge of theology, both as 
a history and a science, rare in any woman (perhaps in 
any layman), she had received from heaven a still more 
excellent gift, "even the ornament of a meek and quiet 

2,2 Memoir and Letters of Sara Coleridge. 

These solemn investigations were, however, the appro- 
priate employment of a more advanced stage of life 
than that of which I am now speaking. In youthful 
days my mother's favourite pursuits were chiefly literary 
and linguistic. Before she was five-and-twenty she had 
made herself acquainted with the leading Greek and 
Latin classics, and was well skilled in French, Italian, 
German, and Spanish. These acquirements were mainly 
the result of her own efforts ; though it is needless to 
point out the advantages she derived in her studies 
from the advice and direction of a man like Mr Southey, 
and from the use which she was kindly encouraged to 
make of his valuable library. 

Natural History, too, in all its branches, especially 
those of botany and zoology, was a subject in which she 
found endless attractions. The beauty of nature mani- 
fested in bird or insect, flower or tree, delighted her 
poetical imagination ; while the signs of Divine Wisdom 
and Goodness, revealed in all the works of creation, fur- 
nished a constant theme for the contemplations of a 
thoughtful piety. Other advantages accompanied these 
studies, so healthful both to mind and body. The out- 
door interests which they provided, the habits of careful 
observation which they rendered necessary, aided in the 
harmonious development of her faculties, and served to 
counterbalance the subjective tendencies of her intellect. 
She could turn at any time from the most abstruse meta- 
physical speculations, to inspect the domestic architec- 
ture of a spider, or describe the corolla of a rose. 

The work referred to by Sir Henry Taylor in his 

" Memoir of the Chevalier Bayard" ^i 

interesting letter, as that upon which my mother was 
engaged at the time of his first visit to Greta Hall, was 
probably her translation of the "Memoirs of the Chevalier 
ard, by the Loyal Servant;" which was published by 
Mr Murray, in 1825. The trouble of rendering the 
accounts of battles and sieges, from the French of the 
sixteenth century, into appropriate English, was con- 
siderable ; but was lightened by the interest inspired by 
the romantic character and adventures of Bayard, the 
Knight " sans peur et sans reproche." 

This was not, however, her earliest appearance in 
print. Her first literary production was one concerning 
which Professor Reed gives the following particulars, in 
the notice above referred to. After observing that it 
" manifestly had its origin in connexion with some of 
Southey's labours,"' he proceeds thus : — " In [822 there 
issued from the London press a work in three oct;i\'> 
volumes, entitled, 'An Account of the Abipones, an 
Equestrian people of Paraguay. From the Latin of 
Martin Dobrizhoffer, eighteen years a Missionary in that 
country.' N<> name of translator appears, and a brief 
and modest preface gives not the least clue to it ; even 
now in catalogues the work is frequently ascribed to 
Southey. At the time of the publication Miss Coleridge 
just twenty years of age, and therefore this elaborate 
toil of translation must have been achieved before she 

* The work was undertaken, in the first instance, for the purpose of as- 
sisting one of her brothers in his college expenses. The necessary means 
were, however, supplied by his own exertions ; and the proceeds of the 
translation (^125) were funded in Sara Coleridge's name, for her own use. 
I C 

34 Memoir and Letters of Sara Coleridge. 

had reached the years of womanhood. The stout- 
hearted perseverance needed for such a task, is quite as 
remarkable as the scholarship in a young person. 
Coleridge himself spoke of it with fond and just admira- 
tion, when in 1832, he said : 

" ' My dear daughter's translation of this book is, in 
my judgment, unsurpassed for pure mother-English, 
by anything I have read for a long time.' 

" Southey in his ' Tale of Paraguay,' which was sug- 
gested by the missionary's narrative, paid to the trans- 
lator a tribute so delicate, and so controlled, perhaps, 
by a sense of his young kinswoman's modesty, that one 
need be in the secret to know for whom it is meant. It 
is in the stanza which mentions Dobrizhoffer's forget- 
fulness of his native speech, during his long missionary 
expatriation, and alludes to the favour shewn him by 
the Empress Maria Theresa." 

" But of his native speech because well-nigh 
Disuse in him forgetfulness had wrought, 
In Latin he composed his history, 
A garrulous but a lively tale, and fraught 
With matter of delight and food for thought, 
And if he could in Merlin's glass have seen 
By whom his tomes to speak our tongue were taught, 
The old man would have felt as pleased, I ween, 
As when he won the ear of that great Empress Queen." 

Canto III., stanza 16. 

" Charles Eamb, in an epistolary strain, eminently 
characteristic, echoes the praise bestowed upon his 
friend's child, and her rare achievement. Writing to 

"Account of the Abipones." $^ 

Southey, in 1S25, in acknowledgement of a presenta- 
tion copy of the ' Tale of Paraguay,' he says : 

" ' The compliment to the translatress is daintily con- 
ceived. Nothing is choicer in that sort of writing than 
to bring in some remote impossible parallel — as between 
the great empress and the unobtrusive quiet soul, who 
;ed her noiseless way so perseveringly through that 
,ed Paraguay mine. How she Dobrizhoffered it all 
out, puzzles my slender latinity to conjecture.* 

There is a graceful allusion to my mother's classical 
attainments in that lovely strain composed in her hon- 
our by the great poet whose genius, especially in its 
earlier manifestations, she so highly admired and rever- 
enced : — 

" Last of the Three, though eldest born, 
Reveal tin self, like pensive morn, 
Touched by the sk\lark"s earliest note, 
Ere humbler gladness be afloat ; 

it whether in the semblance drest 
Of dawn, or eve, fair vision of the west, 

Come with each anxious hope subdued 
By woman's gentle fortitude, 

<:h grief, through meekness, settling into rest. 
Or I would hail thee when some high-wrought page 
Of a closed volume lingering in thy hand, 
Has raised thy spirit to a peaceful stand 
Among the glories of a happier age. 
Her brow hath opened on me, see it there 
Brightening the umbrage of her hair, 
So gleams the crescent moon, that loves 
To be descried through shady groves. 

• " Talfourd's Letters of Charles Lamb," vol. ii., p. I 

36 Memoir and Letters of Sara Coleridge. 

Tenderest bloom is on her cheek. 

Wish not for a richer streak, 

Nor dread the depth of meditative eye, 

But let thy love upon that azure field 

Of thoughtfulness and beauty, yield 

Its homage, offered up in purity. 

What wouldst thou more ? In sunny glade, 

Or under leaves of thickest shade, 

Was such a stillness ere diffused 

Since earth grew calm, while angels mused ? 

Softly she treads, as if her foot were loth 

To crush the mountain dewdrops, soon to melt 

On the flower's breast ; as if she felt 

That flowers themselves, whate'er their hue, 

With all their fragrance, all their glistening, 

Call to the heart for inward listening ; 

And though for bridal wreaths and tokens true 

Welcomed wisely ; though a growth 

Which the careless shepherd sleeps on, 

As fitly spring from turf the mourner weeps on, 

And without wrong are cropped the marble tomb to strew." 

My mother was once told by a poetical friend that, 
till he knew the original, he had always taken this pas- 
sage in the Triad for a personification of the Christian 
grace of Faith. She used to smile at her involuntary 
exaltation, and maintain that there must be something 
exaggerated and unreal in a description which was liable 
to such a misinterpretation. Yet the conjecture may 
have been a right one in the spirit, though not in the 
letter. Certainly no one who knew my mother inti- 
mately, and was privileged to see " the very pulse of the 
machine" — 

/ '/>// to Highgate. \~ 

■• A being breathing thoughtful breath, 
A traveller betwixt life and death. 
The reason firm, the temperate will, 
Endurance, foresight, strength, and skill." 

con id doubt that such a life as hers could only be lived 
- by faith." 

That light of faith, which shone so brightly in declin- 
ing years, had been early sought and found between the 
troubled clouds of life's opening day. In 1828, when 
the " Triad " was written, Sara Coleridge was no stranger 
to the most powerful emotion which can agitate a 
woman's heart, either for joy or sorrow. The " anxious 
hope " alluded to by the poet, with almost parental ten- 
derness, was for the joyful time when she might be 
enabled peacefully to enjoy the " dear and improving 
society" of him to whom she had given her affecti< 
the " grief that settled into the " rest " which is pro- 
mised to the meek and Lowly, arose not so much from 
the postponement of her own happiness as from sympa- 
thy with his disappointment, and sorrow for its cause, 
which was principally the uncertainty of health and 
means on both sides. 

In 1822, while on a visit to her father at Highgate, 
she had first met her cousin, Henry Nelson Coleridge, a 
younger son of James Coleridge, Esq., of Heath's Court, 
Ottery St Mary, who was educated at Eton College, and 
at King's College, Cambridge, where his course was not 
unmarked by academical honours. He was then prac- 
tising as a Chancer}' barrister in London, and made fre- 
quent pilgrimages to Highgate, one result of which was 


8 Menioir and Letters of Sara Coleridge. 

that series of notes to which the world is indebted for 
the " Table Talk of S. T. Coleridge." 

The attachment thus formed between the two youth- 
ful cousins, under the roof of Mr Gillman, was never for 
a single moment regretted by my mother, in spite of the 
solicitudes to which it exposed her, and the sorrows 
which, in after years, cast a shade of sadness over the 
stillness which characterised her gentle face. 

" She was a maid," thus writes Hartley Coleridge of 
his only sister : — 

"Not easily beguiled by loving words, 
Nor apt to love ; but when she loved, the fate 
Of her affections was a stern religion, 
Admitting nought less holy than itself." 

These " seven years of patience" did not pass without 
Dringing forth precious fruits of piety and goodness in a 
heart already enriched with the dews of heavenly bless- 
ing. " Your virtues," writes my father to his betrothed 
in a letter of 1827, "never shone so brilliantly in my 
eyes as they do now ; and it is a spring of deep and 
sacred joy in my heart to think that, however weak and 
wavering my steps may be in the ways of religion, you 
are already a firm traveller in them, and indeed a young- 
saint upon earth. The trials to which our engagement 
has exposed you have been fatiguing and painful ; but 
you have borne them all, not only without impatience 
or murmuring, but with a holy cheerfulness and ener- 
getic resignation, than which no two states of the heart 
are more difficult to man, or more acceptable to God. 

" I made a true remark to you once, which I feel 

Marriage Prospects. 39 

every day justified by our own correspondence, that spi- 
ritual things differ from mere things of sense in this 
amongst other points, that sensual objects, capacities, 
and enjoyments are all naturally bounded, short, and 
fugitive, whilst pure love and pure intellectual commu- 
nion are essentially without limits, and that to the pure- 
hearted a boundless ascent towards identity of moral 
being lies open, and that every day fresh depths of love 
and thought might open to the tender and assiduous 
sympathies of two mutually adoring persons. I have 
always loved you as much as my heart could feel at the 
time ; but my respect, my veneration for you has gone 
on increasing as I knew you more intimately. I hope I 
shall always have the sense to submit myself to your 
guiding influence in all cases of moral election. The 
more closely I imitate your habits, thoughts, and actions, 
the better and happier man shall I become." 

The noble affection thus generously expressed, was as 
full)- returned by her on whom it was bestowed. In a 
letter written on the eve of her marriage she thus ad- 
dresses the expected bridegroom, "You will not, I know, 
grudge a few tears to my dearest mother, to dear Kes- 
wick, dear Greta Hall, and its dear and interesting in- 
mates. These changes, these farewells, are types of the 
great change, the long farewell, that awaits us ajl here- 
after. We cannot but be thoughtful upon them. Vet 
I know and feel that this change is to be infinitely for 
the better ; and in your dear and improving society I 
trust I shall learn to look upon that other change as a 
blessed one too. The sadness of my present farewell 

40 Memoir and Letters of Sara Coleridge. 

will be tempered by the prospect of meeting all here 
frequently again upon earth, as, I hope, all dear friends 
will be reunited in heaven. But that speculation would 
lead me too far. Fear not, Henry, that such specula- 
tions, or rather, such a tendency in my nature to specu- 
lation and dreaminess, will render me an unfit wife for 
you. Does not Wordsworth point out to us how the 
most excursive bird can brood as long and as fondly on 
the nest as any of the feathered race ? * This taste for 
the spiritual I consider a great blessing, crowned by 
that other inexpressibly great one, the having found a 
partner who will tolerate, approve, sympathise in all I 
think and feel, and will allow me to sympathise with 

On the 3d of September 1829, Henry Nelson Cole- 
ridge and Sara Coleridge were married at Crosthwaite 
Church, Keswick. After a few months spent in a Lon- 
don lodging, they began their frugal housekeeping in a 
tiny cottage on Downshire Hill, Hampstead, where 
their four elder children were born, of whom the twins, 
Berkeley and Florence, died in infancy. In 1837 my 
parents removed to a more commodious dwelling in 
Chester Place, Regent's Park, where a third daughter, 
Bertha Fanny, was born in 1840, who survived her birth 
but a few days. 

My mother's married life was, as Professor Reed has 
truly observed, " rich in the best elements of conjugal 
happiness, — wedded to a gentleman of high moral worth, 

* "True to the kindred points of Heaven and home." 

— The Skylark. 

Henry Nelson Coleridge, 41 

and of fine mind and scholarship, one who blended 
literature with his professional pursuits, — she was not 
exposed to the perils of intellectual superiority." 

The compositions (chiefly on classical subjects) which 
occupied his leisure, while his health lasted, and which 
displayed the varied powers of an acute and polished 
intellect, and the elegant taste of an accomplished 
scholar, formed a topic of common interest, and one 
which is frequently referred to in her letters of that 
period, with visible pride and pleasure. With respect 
to moral and personal qualities, too, my father was, as 
she afterwards said to a friend when describing her 
grief at his loss, "of all men whom she had ever known, 
best suited to her ; " and this quite as much by force of 
contrast as of resemblance. Of sensitive temperament, 
reserved though deeply earnest feelings, and manners 
which illness and suffering rendered serious, though not 
usual 1)' sad, she was especially likely to feel the charm 
of the wit, gaiety, and conversational brilliancy, which, 
on social occasions, made her husband the " life and soul 
of the company," as well as of the joyous frankness and 
overflowing affectionateness which made him the delight 
of his home. 

In that genial atmosphere of loving appreciation, free 
from the cares and depressing circumstances of her 
girlhood, she was encouraged and enabled to put forth 
all her best powers — 

" A thousand happy things that seek the light, 
Till now in darkest shadow forced to lie," * 

* From a song in " Phantasmion." 

42 Memoir and Letters of Sara Coleridge. 

began to "shew their forms and hues in the all-revealing 
sun." The imaginative genius which she inherited from 
her father (together with his turn for philosophical 
reflection, developed in her at a later date) found its 
most perfect expression in her romance of Phantasmion, 
published in 1837. The wild and beautiful scenery of 
her birthplace, vividly remembered and fondly dwelt on 
in the enforced seclusion of sickness (for she was now 
unhappily an invalid) reappears here, idealized by ima- 
gination, to form the main subject of the picture ; while 
groups of graceful and dignified figures give animation 
to the landscape, and fairy forms flitting above or 
around them, Spirits of the Wind, the Woods, or the 
Waters, serve as a connecting link between humanity 
and nature. 

" Nothing has appeared in this species of writing," 
says a friendly American critic, " to be for one moment 
compared with " Phantasmion," since Fouque produced 
his inimitable "Undine." There is one characteristic 
feature in this book that will render it peculiarly accept- 
able to all lovers of nature. We do not allude to its 
accuracy in the delineating of the infinite phases of 
earth and air, sea and sky, though nothing can be more 
perfect in this respect ; but what we mean, is its re- 
markable freedom from the conventional forms and 
usages of life. It has the patriarchal simplicity, the 
beautiful truthfulness of primitive ages ; while it is at 
the same time enriched and ennobled by the refinement 
of a more advanced period. . . . Do you ask what is 
its grand characteristic ? It is beauty, — beauty, truly 

"Phantasmitm" and "P;r//j f Lessons." 43 

feminine, beauty of conception, character, and expression. 
It is indeed a wilderness of sweets, illumined by the 
richest hues of earth and heaven, and through which a 
stream of magic melody is for ever flowing. . . . The 
' Songs of Phantasmion!' what sweetness of verse! what 
breathings of a tender spirit ! whose voice — who but the 
writer's own spirit of the flowers — could do them justice?'' 
This beautiful fairy tale was at first intended (though 
it soon outgrew its original limits) as a mere child's 
story for the amusement of her little boy, whose beauty, 
vivacity, and early intelligence are described with mater- 
nal love and pride, in one of the letters of that period, 
in reply to the questions of her brother Hartley, about 
his unseen nephew. The education of her children was 
now their mother's principal object, an object on which 
she deemed it no waste to lavish the charms of her 
genius, and the resources of her cultivated understand- 
ing. Latin grammar, natural history, geography, and 
the " Kings of England," were all made easy and 
attractive to the little learners by simple and appro- 
priate verses, written on cards, in clear print-like char- 
acters. Even a set of wooden bricks, which was a 
favourite source of amusement, was thus agreeably 
decorated, in the hope that those tough morsels, hie, 

. hoe, and their congeners,, might glide gently 1 
the youthful palate, sweetened with play and pleasure. 
From these Sibylline leaves of the nursery a selection of 
juvenile poetry was published in 1S34, by my father's 
re, who wished that other children might have some 
share in the advantages enjoyed by his own. The little 

44 Memoir and Letters of Sara Coleridge. 

volume, entitled " Pretty Lessons for Good Children," 
proved a popular work, and passed through five 

: ' Learning, Herbert, hath the features 
Almost of an Angel's face ; 
Contemplate them steadfastly, 
Learn by heart each speaking grace. 
Truth and wisdom, high wrought fancy, 
In those lineaments we trace ; 
Never be your eyes averted 
Long from that resplendent face ! " * 

Happy the boy who is permitted to see those glorious 
lineaments reflected in the " angel-face " of a wise and 
tender mother! It may not be uninteresting to the 
sympathizing reader to learn, that he who enjoyed the 
blessing of such rare guardianship lived to appreciate 
and reward it, and to attest its value by those public 
honours that are won by industry and talent.f And 
that, when disease came to blight the hopes of his man- 
hood, and cut short a promising career, Learning was, 
to him as to her, a shield from the monotony of the 
sick-room and an exceeding great reward ; and that as 
long as anything earthly could claim his attention, it 
was seldom " averted from that resplendent face." 

* Fifth stanza of a poem on the Latin declensions in " Pretty Lessons," 
— Fades, a Face. 

f My brother was the Newcastle and Balliol scholar in 1847 and 1848, 
and took a double first class at Oxford in 1852, which latter honour his 
mother did not live to witness. He was a fine Icelandic scholar ; and at 
the time of his death, which took place in 1861, he was engaged in pre- 
parations for the new English dictionary projected by the Philological 
Society, of which he was a member. 

// 'idowhood. 45 

But it is time to return to an earlier stage of the 
narrative, when that domestic happiness so patiently 
waited for, and thankfully enjoyed, was smitten by the 
hand of death. All that was earthly of it fell to the 
earth, and was no more ; but there remained to the 
desolate widow the Christian's hope of a heavenly 
re-union, which proved an anchor of the soul sure and 
steadfast, when the waves of affliction rose high. In 
1S41 my father's health began to give way; and in 
January 1843 ne died of spinal paralysis, after a trying 
illness of nine months. 

In her deep distress my mother again endeavoured to 
act upon that principle of " energetic resignation," (so 
different from the aimless broodings of mere submission) 
which had been early noticed in her by the discriminat- 
ing eye of affection. " I feel it such a duty, such a 
necessity," she writes to a friend three months after her 
bereavement, " to cling fast to every source of comfort, 
to be, for my children's sake, as happy, as willing to live 
on in this heart-breaking world, as possible, that I 
dwell on all the blessings which God continues to me, 
and has raised up to me out of the depths of affliction, 
with an earnestness of endeavour which is its own reward; 
— for so long as the heart and mind are full of move- 
ment, employed continually in not unworthy objects, 
there may be sorrow, but there cannot be despair. The 
stagnation of the spirit, the dull, motionless brooding 
over one miserable set of thoughts, is that against 
which, in such cases as mine, we must both strive and 

46 Memoir and Letters of Sara Coleridge. 

There is another, an equally interesting, though less per- 
sonal, point of view, in which this great bereavement was 
an important turning-point in the life of Sara Coleridge. 
Her husband was Mr Coleridge's literary executor, and 
the editorial task first undertaken, by my father, now 
devolved upon his widow. It has been beautifully 
remarked by Professor Reed, as a peculiarity of my 
mother's truly feminine authorship, that it was in no 
case prompted by mere literary ambition, but that there 
was ever some "moral motive," — usually some call of the 
affections, that set her, to work, and overcame her natural 
preference for retirement. This helpful, loving, and 
unselfish spirit, which had actuated her hitherto, now 
took a more commanding form, and led her to dedicate 
the whole of her intellectual existence to the great 
object of carrying out a husband's wishes, of doing 
justice to a father's name. In the fulfilment of this 
sacred trust, she found occasion to illustrate and adorn 
the works which fell under her editorship, with several 
compositions of no inconsiderable extent ; and display- 
ing powers of critical analysis, and of doctrinal, political, 
and historical research and discussion, of no common 
order. The most important of these are the "Essay on 
Rationalism, with a special application to the Doctrine 
of Baptismal Regeneration," appended to Vol. II. of the 
"Aids to Reflection," the " Introduction " to the Biographia 
Literaria ; and a Preface to the collection of her father's 
political writings, entitled, "Essays on his Own Times, by 
S. T. Coleridge," which contains, in Professor Reed's 
opinion, the most judicious and impartial comparison 

Editorial Duties. 47 

between British and American civilization, and the 
social and intellectual conditions of the two countries, 
that has yet been written. " And thus," continues her 
accomplished friend and biographer, "there have been 
expended in the desultory form of notes, and appendices, 
and prefaces, an amount of original thought and an 
affluence of learning, which, differently and more pro- 
minently presented, would have made her famous. 
There is not one woman in a thousand, not one man in 
ten thousand, who would have been thus prodigal of the 
means of celebrity." 

" Father ! no amaranths ere shall wreathe my brow ; 
Enough that round thy grave they flourish now ! 
But Love his roses 'mid my young locks braided, 
And what cared I for flowers of richer bloom ? 
Those too seemed deathless — here they never faded, 
But, drenched and shattered, dropt into the tomb.''* 

This blended expression of the wife's and the daugh- 
ter's affection was recorded when she was in the midst 
of her pious duties. Ere long she too was called upon 
to resign the work, still unfinished, into another, but a 
dear and well-skilled hand.f Seven years of waiting 
for the happiness so long expected — again seven years 
— not always of mourning, but of faithful memories and 
tender regrets for that which had past away for ever ; 
and then came preparations for the " great change, the 
long farewell," to which she had learned to look forward 
when on the very eve of bridal joys and earthly blesscd- 

From an unpublished poem by Sara Coleridge, 
t Her brother, the Rev. Derwent Coleridge, the present Editor. 

48 Memoir and Letters of Sara Coleridge. 

ness. She who had once called marriage the type of 
death, now heard the summons to the heavenly Marriage 
Feast, with no startled or reluctant ear. Solemn indeed 
is the darkness of the Death Valley, and awful are the 
forms that guard its entrance — 

" Fear, and trembling Hope, 
Silence, and Foresight," 

but beyond all these, and revealed to the heart (though 
not to the eye) of the humble and believing Christian 
are the blissful realities of Light and Love. 

After a lingering and painful illness of about a year 
and a half, Sara Coleridge was released from much suf- 
fering, borne with unfailing patience, on the 3d of May 
1852, in the forty-ninth year of her age. In the old 
churchyard of Highgate (now enclosed in a crypt under 
the school chapel) her remains lie, beside those of her 
parents, her husband, and her son. 

The following letter will be read with pleasure, not 
only for its own sake, but as a tribute to my mother's 
memory, from one whose friendship, correspondence, and 
society helped to brighten her latter years, and to whom 
this work owes some of the most interesting portions of 
its contents. 

" I rejoice to hear," Mr de Vere writes to me, on the 
subject of the present publication, " that a portion of 
your mother's letters will be published so soon. To 
those who knew her she remains an image of grace and 
intellectual beauty that time can never tarnish. A 

Her Spirituality of Mind. 49 

larger circle will now know, in part at least, what she 
was. Her correspondence will, to thoughtful readers, 
convey a clearer impression than aught beside could 
convey of one who of course could only be fully under- 
stood by those who had known her personally and 
known her long. 

" In their memories she will ever possess a place 
apart from all others. With all her high literary powers 
she was utterly unlike the mass of those who are called 
4 literary persons.' Few have possessed such learn- 
ing; and when one calls to mind the arduous character 
of those studies, which seemed but a refreshment to her 
clear intellect, like a walk in mountain air, it seems a 
marvel how a woman's faculties could have grappled 
with those Greek philosophers and Greek fathers, just 
as no doubt it seemed a marvel when her father, at the 
age of fourteen, woke the echoes of that famous old 
cloister with declamations from Plato and Plotinus. 
But in the daughter, as in the father, the real marvel 
was neither the accumulated knowledge nor the literary 
power. It was the spiritual mind. 

1 The rapt one of the God-like forehead, 
The heaven-eyed creature,' 

was Wordsworth's description of Coleridge, the most 
spiritual perhaps of England's poets, certainly of her 
modern poets. Of her some one said, ' Her father had 
looked down into her eyes, and left in them the light of 
his own.' Her great characteristic was the radiant spi- 
rituality of her intellectual and imaginative being. This 

it was that looked forth from her countenance. 
1 I) 

5<d Memoir and Letters of Sara Coleridge. 

" Great and various as were your mother's talents, it 
was not from them that she derived what was special to 
her. It was from the degree in which she had inherited 
the feminine portion of genius. She had a keener 
appreciation of what was highest and most original in 
thought than of subjects nearer the range of ordinary- 
intellects. She moved with the lightest step when she 
moved over the loftiest ground. Her ' feet were beauti- 
ful on the mountain-tops' of ideal thought. They were 
her native land ; for her they were not barren ; honey 
came up from the stony rock. In this respect I should 
suppose she must have differed from almost all women 
whom we associate with literature. I remember hear- 
ing her say that she hardly considered herself to be a 
woman ' of letters.' She felt herself more at ease when 
musing on the mysteries of the soul, or discussing the 
most arduous speculations of philosophy and theology, 
than when dealing with the humbler topics of literature. 

"As might have been expected, the department of 
literature which interested her most was that of poetry — 
that is, poetry of the loftiest and most spiritual order, 
for to much of what is now popular she would have re- 
fused the name. How well I remember our discussions 
about Wordsworth ! She was jealous of my admiration 
for his poems, because it extended to too many of them. 
No one could be a true Wordsworthian, she maintained, 
who admired so much some of his later poems, his poems 
of accomplishment, such as the ' Triad.' It implied a 
disparagement of his earlier poems, such as ' Resolu- 
tion and Independence,' in which the genuine Words- 

Her Sweetness of Manner, 51 

rthian inspiration, and that alone, uttered itself! I 
suspect, however, that she must have taken a yet more 
vivid delight in some of her father's poems. Beside 
their music and their spirituality, they have another 

quality, in which they stand almost without a rival, — their 
subtle sweet! 1 . I remember Leigh Hunt once re- 

marking to me on this characteristic of them, and 
observing that in this respect they were unapproached. 
It is like distant music, when the tone comes to you 
pure, without any coarser sound of wood or of wire ; or 
like odour on the air, when you smell the flower, with- 
out detecting in it the stalk or the earth. As regards 
this characteristic of her father's genius, as well as its 
spirituality, there was something in hers that resembled 
it. One is reminded of it by the fairy-like music of the 
songs in ' Phantasmion.' 

There is a certain gentleness and a modesty which 
belong to real genius, and which are in striking contrast 
with the self-confidence and self-assertion, so often 
found in persons possessed of vigorous talents, but to 
whom literature is but a rough sport or a coarse profes- 
sion. It was these qualities that gave to her manners 
their charm of feminine grace, self-possession, and sweet- 
-. She was one of those whose thoughts are growing 
while the)- speak, and who never speak to surprise. Her 
intellectual fervour was not that which runs over in ex- 
citement ; a quietude belonged to it, and it was ever 
modulated by a womanly instinct of reserve and dignity. 
She never ' thought for effect,' or cared to have the last 
word in discussion, or found it difficult to conceive how 

5 2 Memoir and Letters of Sara Coleridge. 

others should differ from her conclusions. She was 
more a woman than those who had not a tenth part of 
her intellectual energy. The seriousness and the soft- 
ness of her nature raised her above vanity and its con- 
tortions. Her mind could move at once and be at rest. 
" I fear that the type of character and intellect to which 
your mother belonged must be expected to grow rarer 
in these days of ' fast ' intellect. Talents rush to the 
market, the theatre, or the arena, and genius itself 
becomes vulgarized for want of that ' hermit heart ' 
which ought to belong to it, whether it be genius of the 
creative or the susceptive order. There will always, 
however, be those whose discernment can trace in your 
mother's correspondence and in her works the impress 
of what once was so fair. But, alas ! how little will be 
known of her even by such. Something they will guess 
of her mind, but it is only a more fortunate few who can 
know her yet higher gifts, those that belong to the heart 
and moral being. If they have a loss which is theirs 
only, they too have remembrances which none can share 
with them. They remember the wide sympathies and 
the high aspirations, the courageous love of knowledge, 
and the devout submission to Revealed Truth ; the 
domestic affections so tender, so dutiful, and so self- 
sacrificing, the friendships so faithful and so unexacting. 
For her great things and little lived on together through 
the fidelity of a heart that seemed never to forget. I 
never walk beside the Greta or the Derwent without 
hearing her describe the flowers she had gathered on 
their margin in her early girlhood. For her they seemed 

Her Memory. 53 

to preserve their fragrance, amid the din and the smoke 
of the great metropolis." 

To these high and discerning praises, any addition 
from me would be indeed superfluous. Yet one word 
of confirmation may here find a place ; it is this, that 
such as Sara Coleridge appeared to sympathizing friends 
and admiring strangers, such she was known to be, by 
those who, as her children, lived with her in habits of 
daily intimacy, and depended on her wholly for guid- 
ance, affection and support. To such an one, her 
memory is almost a religion ; or, to speak more soberly 
as well as more Christianly, it is prized not only out of 
love for herself, but as a practical evidence of the truth of 
that Religion, which made her what she was. 



Letters to her Husband, her eldest brother Hartley Coleridge, and 

Miss Trevenen. 


Importance of indirect Influences on Education — Description of 
her Son at three years old— A Child's first effort at Recollec- 

To HARTLEY Coleridge, Esq. — Nab Cottage, Grasmere. 

Hampstcad 1833. — I THINK the present hard-work- 
ing, over-busy, striving age, somewhat over-does the 
positive part of education, and forgets the efficacy of 
the negative. Not to make children irreligious by 
dosing them with religion unskilfully administered 
— not to make them self-important by charging them, 
on no account to be conceited (which you used to 
complain of so bitterly) — not to make them busy-bodies 
and uncharitable by discussing the misdemeanours 
of all belonging to them, whom they ought to hold 
in reverence, in their hearing, giving them the fruit 
of the tree of ill knowledge (a fruit which both puffs up 
and imparts bitterness) before their stomachs have 
acquired firmness enough to receive it without injury, 
(before the secretions of the mind are all settled, and 
such knowledge can subsist without disturbing the sweet 
juices of charity and humanity) — not to create disgust, 
or excite hypocrisy, by attempting to pour sensibility, 
generosity, and such other good qualities, which cannot 
be supplied from without, but must well up from within, 

58 Memoir and Letters of Sara Coleridge. 

by buckets full into their hearts, — not to cram them with 
knowledge which their minds are not mature enough to 
digest, (such as Political Economy) the only result of 
which will be to make them little superficial coxcombs, 
— in short to give nature elbow room, and not to put 
swathes on their minds, now we have left off lacing them 
upon their infant bodies, to trust more to happy influences, 
and less to direct tuition, not to defeat our own purpose 
by over-anxiety, and to recollect that the powers of 
education are even more limited than those of circum- 
stances, that nature and God's blessing are above all 
things, and to arm ourselves against the disappointment 
that may attend our best directed and most earnest 
endeavours ; all these considerations, I think, are treated 
too slightingly in the present day. Folks are all too busy 
to think ; churches are built in a fortnight — but not 
quite such as our ancestors built. The only wonder is 
that there is so much childish innocence and nature left 
in the world. But, as an old nurse said, " O Lord, 
ma'am, it's not very easy to kill a baby" so I think it 
not very easy to spoil a child. Nature has a wonderful 
power of rejecting what does not suit her; and the 
harangue which is unfitted for juvenile hearts and un- 
derstandings, often makes no impression upon either. 
How often does a child that was certainly to be ruined 
by mismanagement, disappoint all the wise Jeremiahs, 
and turn out an amiable member of society ! 

You say you cannot bring before your mind's eye our 
little Herby. A mother is qualified to draw a child's 
portrait, if close study of the original be a qualification. 

Herbert Coleridge. 59 

High colouring may be allowed for. I will try to give 

you some notion of our child. lie is too even a mixture 
of both father and mother to be strikingly like either; 

and this is the more natural as Henry and I have features 
definite than our expressions. This may, perhaps, 
account for that flowing softness and more than child- 
like indefiniteness of outline which our boy's face pre- 
sents: it is all colour and expression — such varying 
expression as consists with the sort of corporeal mould- 
ing which I have described ; in which the vehicle is lost 
sight of, and the material of the veil is obscured by the 
brightness of what shines through it — not that pointed 
sort of fixed expression which seems more mechanically 
formed by strong lines and angular features. To be 
more particular, he has round eyes, and a round nose, 
and round lips and cheeks; and he has deep blue eyes, 
which vary from stone grey to skiey azure, according to 
influences of light and shade; and yellowish light-brown 
hair, and cheeks and lips rosy up to the very deepest, 
brightest, tint of childish rosyhood. He will not be a 
handsome man, but he is a pretty representative of three 

years old, as D was a "representative baby," and 

folks who put the glossy side of their opinions outer- 
most for the gratified eyes of mothers and nurses, and 
all that large class with whom rosy cheeks are the 
inning, middle, and end of beaut)', say enough to 
make me — as vain as I am. I don't pretend to any 
exemption from the general lot of parental delusion, I 
mean that like most other parents, I see my child 
through an atmosphere which illuminates, magnifies, 

60 Memoir and Letters of Sara Coleridge. 

and at the same time refines the object to a degree that 
amounts to a delusion, at least, unless we are aware 
that to other eyes it appears by the light of common 
day only. My father says that those who love intensely, 
see more clearly than indifferent persons ; they see 
minutenesses which escape other eyes ; they see " the 
very pulse of the machine." Doubtless, but then, don't 
they magnify by looking through the medium of their 
partiality ? Don't they raise into undue relative import- 
ance by exclusive gazing — don't wishes and hopes, 
indulged and cherished long, turn unto realities, as the 
rapt astronomer gazed upon the stars, and mused on 
human knowledge, and longed for magic power, till he 
believed that he directed the sun's course, and the sweet 
influences of the Pleiades ? 

To return to our son and heir; he is an impetuous, 
vivacious child, and the softer moments of such are 
particularly touching, (so thinks the mother of a vehe- 
ment urchin). I lately asked him the meaning of a 
word ; he turned his rosy face to the window, and cast 
up the full blue eyes, which looked liquid in the light, 
in the short hush of childish contemplation. The 
innocent thoughtfulness contrasted with his usual noisy 
mirth and rapidity, struck my fancy. I had never before 
seen him condescend to make an effort at recollection. 
The word usually passed from his lips like an arrow 
from a bow ; and if not forthcoming instantly there was 
an absolute unconcern as to its fate in the region of 
memory. The necessity of brain-racking is not among 
the number of his discoveries in the (to him) new world. 

Mrs Joiuuia Baillie. 6\ 

All wears the freshness and the glory of a dream; and 
the stale, flat and unprofitable, and the improbus labor, 
and the sadness and despondency, are all behind that 
visionary haze which hides the dull reality, the mourn- 
ful future of man's life. You may well suppose that I 
look on our darling boy with many fears — but "forti- 
tude and patient cheer " must recall me from such 
"industrious foil)-;" and faith and piety must tell 
me that this is not to be his home for ever, and that 
the glories of this world are lent but to spiritualize us, 
to incite us to look upward ; and that the trials which 
I dread for my darling, arc but part of his Maker's 
general scheme of goodness and wisdom. 


Mrs Joanna Baillie — "An Old Age Serene and Bright"' — Miss 
M.irtincau's Characters of Children — "A Little Knowledge" 
of Political Economy " a Dangerous Thing" — Comparison of 
Tasso, Dante, and Milton. 

Miss E. Trevenex, Helston, Cornwall. 

Hampstead, 1833. — Our great poetess, or rather the 
sensible, amiable old lady that zcas a great poetess thirty 
years ago, is still in full preservation, as to health. Never 
did the flame of genius more thoroughly expire than in 
her case; forthough, as Lamb saj>, "Ancient Mariners," 
" Lyrical Ballads," and " Kehamas," are not written in the 
grand climacteric, the authors of such flights of imagina- 
tion generally give out sparkles of their ancient fires in 

62 Memoir and Letters of Sara Coleridge. 

conversation ; but Mrs Joanna Baillie is, as Mr Words- 
worth observes, when quoting her non-feeling for Lycidas, 
"dry and Scotchy:" learning she never possessed, and 
some of her poetry, which I think was far above that of 
any other woman, is the worse for a few specks of bad 
English ; then her criticisms are so surprisingly narrow 
and jejune, and show so slight an acquaintance with 
fine literature in general. Yet if the authoress of "Plays 
on the Passions " does not now write or talk like a poet- 
ess, she looks like one, and is a piece of poetry in herself. 
Never was old age more lovely and interesting ; the face, 
the dress, the quiet, subdued motions, the silver hair, the 
calm in-looking eye, the pale, yet not unhealthy skin, all 
are in harmony ; this is winter with its own peculiar 
loveliness of snows and paler sunshine ; no forced 
flowers or fruits to form an unnatural contrast with the 
general air of the prospect. 

I never could relish those wonderfully young-looking 
old ladies that are frequently pointed out to our admira- 
tion, and who look like girls at a little distance ; so much 
the greater your disappointment when you come close. 
Why should an old person look young ? ought such a 
one to feel and think young ? if not, how <~an the mind 
and person be in harmony ; how can there be the real 
grace and comeliness which old age, as old age, may 
possess, though not round cheeks and auburn ringlets? 

Do you read Miss Martineau ? How well she always 
succeeds in her portraits of children, their simplicity and 
partially developed feelings and actions ; and what a pity 
it is that with all her knowledge of child nature, she 

Political Economy. 6 


should try to persuade herself and others that political 
economy is a fit and useful study for growing minds, and 
limited capabilities, a subject of all others requiring 
matured intellect and general information as its basis ! 
This same political economy, which quickens the sale of 
her works now, will, I think, prove heavy ballast for a 
vessel that is to sail down the stream of time, as all 
agree that it is a dead weight upon the progress of her 
narratives, introducing the most absurd incongruities 
and improbabilities in regard to the dramatic propriety 
of character, and setting in arms against the interest of 
the story the political opinions of a great class of her 
readers. And she might have rivalled Miss Edgeworth ! 
What a pity that she would stretch her genius on such 
a Procrustes bed ! And then what practical benefit can 
such studies have for the mass of the people, for whom, 

it seems that Miss M intends her expositions? they 

are not like religion, which may and must mould 
the thoughts and acts of everyday life, the true spirit of 
which therefore cannot be toomuch studied and explained ; 
but how can poor people help the corn-laws, except by 
sedition, and what pauper will refuse to marry, because 
his descendants may, hundreds of years hence (if hundreds 
of things don't happen to prevent it), help among mil- 
lions of others to choke up the world ? Who, in short, 
will listen to dry and doubtful themes, when passion calls? 
A smattering of Greek or Latin is, in my opinion, a 
harmless thing ; nay, I think it useful and agreeable, just 
according to its extent; a little is good, more is better, if 
people are aware how short a way they have proceeded, 

64 Memoir and Letters of Sara Coleridge. 

and what a length of road is before them, which they 
have more opportunity of seeing than those who have 
never set out. But a little learning is, indeed, a dan- 
gerous thing, when no part can be seen clearly without 
a view of the whole, and when knowledge, or fancied 

knowledge, is sure to incite to practice 

I admire the elegant and classical Tasso, but cannot 
agree with those who call him the great poet of Italy. 
He borrowed from the ancients, not, as Milton did, to 
melt down the foreign with the original ore of his own 
mind, and to form out of the mass a new creation wholly 
his own in shape and substance, and in its effect on the 
minds of others. It appears to me that he only produced 
a vigorous and highly-wrought imitation of former 
copies, into which he combined many new materials, 
but the frame and body of which was not original. 
Dante's was the master-mind that wrought, like Homer 
and Milton, for itself from the beginning, and which in- 
fluenced the poetry of Italy for ages. 


Characteristics of English Scenery — Somerset, Yorkshire, Devon, 
Derbyshire, and the Lakes — Visit of H. N. Coleridge to Mr 
Poole at Nether Stowey. 

To Miss E. Trevenen, Helston, Cornwall. 

Hampstead, October 1833. — Henry agrees with me in 
thinking the Somerset landscape the ideal of rurality 
where nature is attired in amenity rather than in gran- 
deur. The North of England is more picturesque ; you 

English Scenery. 65 

arc there ever thinking of what might be represented on 
canvass ; parts of Yorkshire are far more romantic, espe- 
cially in the mellowing lights and hues of autumn, when 
its old ruins and red and yellow trees and foaming 

mis, bring you into communion with the genius of 
Scott ; Derbyshire is lovely and picturesque, but to me 
it is unsatisfactory, as mimicking, on too small a scale, a 
finer thing of the same sort. Dovedale may have a cha- 
racter of its own ; I understand it is more pastoral than 
the English Lakeland, yet with a portion of its wilder 
beaut)-, but Matlock struck me as a fragment of Boro- 
dale, without the fine imaginative distance. Devon is a 
noble county, but less distinctly charactered, I think, than 
the sister one ; it displays specimens of variously-featured 
landscapes, here the river-scenery of Scotland, there a 
smiling meadow-land ; in one place reminding you of 
the North of England, in another a wild desolate moor, 
or fine sea-view peculiar to itself ; still, in the general 
face of the country, I have felt that there was the want 
of individuality and a clue proportion of the various 
features of the scene ; — in many parts the trees, though 
superb specimens in themselves, domineer, in their giant 
multitude, too exclusively over the land, and prevent the 
eye from taking in a prospect where the perfection of 
parts is subservient to the soul-entrancing effect of the 
whole. Devonshire has sometimes struck me as the 
workshop of nature, where materials of the noblest kind 
and magnitude are heaped together. The only defect, 
Henry says, in Somersetshire, is the fewness and unclear- 

of the streams. With Nether Stowey he was esj 

66 Memoir and Letters of Sara Coleridge. 

daily delighted ; it is indeed an epitome of the beauties 
of the county ; he was much interested with the marked 
original character and gratified by the attentions of his 
host, our old friend Mr Poole ; he visited my father's 
tiny cottage, where my brother Hartley trotted and 
prattled, and where my unknown baby brother Berkeley, 
a beautiful infant, was born ; the pleasant reminiscences 
of my father's abode in the village gave Henry much 


" Dodging " — Children best managed by Authority, not by 
premature appeals made to their Feelings. 

To her Husband. 

Hampstead, October 1833. — Herby begins his les- 
sons now with " Oo shan't dodge me!" but I tell him 
(or tell myself rather) that without dodging no scholar 
was ever made. Short instructions at a time, and thorough 
cross-examination of those given, is the system I would 
go upon in teaching. Be sure that the first step is 
really taken before you attempt to proceed, and don't 
fancy that children will listen to lectures, either in learn- 
ing or morality. Punish a child for hurting his sister, 
and he will draw the inference that it is wroncr, without 
a sermon on brotherly affection. Children mark what 
you do much more, and what you say less, than those 
who know them not imagine. Another of my rules is, 
never to draw upon the sensibility of children, or try to 

The Ancients on Colours. 67 

create what must be a native impulse, if genuine ; neither 
would I appeal to what is so unsure a ground of action. 
I would not tell a child to refrain from what is wrong 
because it gives me pain. I know from experience how 
soon that falls flat on the feelings, and how can you 
expect sympathy where there can be no experience or 
conception of the evil suffered ? Do you remember how 

poor little used to behave when told not to make 

his mother's head ache? Nothing is more sure to dis- 
gust than a demand for sympathy where there is a lack 
of all materials for its production. How can a child 
comprehend a grown person's bodily sensations, or 
parental griefs and anxieties ? You must appeal to 
on and conscience, not so much by argument as by 
such a medium as is most applicable to the mind of a 
child. If you have reason to think your motives mis- 
understood, in any way which ma)- affect the child's 
feelings or conduct, a few leading hints may soon set 
the matter right. 


The Ancients' close Observation and accurate Delineation of Nature 
— Names of Colours in classic poetry — " The Georgics." 

To the Same. 

Hampstcad, December 1833. — Martin says the an- 
cients were vague in the description of colours. I doubt 
not, if we understood them thoroughly, we should find 
that what appears vague and shadow}-, proceeded from 

68 Memoir and Letters of Sara Coleridge. 

fineness and accuracy of discernment. The ancients 
were precise in the delineation of nature. They did not 
see it with the spirit of Wordsworth, — no more, I think, 
did Shakespeare. But they either drew and coloured in 
the open air, and conveyed forms and tints closely and 
vividly, or they translated literally from the poets who 
did so, as Virgil appears to have done from Homer and 
Theocritus. This applies to their poetical diction. The 
spirit and form of Virgil's work were doubtless borrowed 
with modification ; but the vague, dreamy imagery of 
Shelley, Keats, &c, I believe to be a thing of modern 
growth. The ancients did not modify and compose out 
of floating reminiscences of other books. Purpureus, as 
applied to a swan, of course is metaphorical, red being 
the most brilliant of colours, and a white swan gleaming 
in full daylight, one of the most resplendent of natural 
objects. The passages on the hyacinth, I think, are 
perfectly consistent, if closely examined, and express a 
peculiar shade of red, belonging to one of the multi- 
tudinous tribe of lilies. Glaucus, too, has a precise 
meaning. P aliens is very expressive and true in the 
way it is applied, meaning yellowish white. Niger must 
have meant dark-coloured, not merely black. How 
exact the metaphors of the peasantry are. " The 
Gcorgics " is the Rubens portrait of nature. How ex- 
quisite is the expression, yet nothing is idealised. Herby 
must read that poem, as soon as he has Latin enough 
to gather the meaning through the foreign garb. It will 
make him look at nature, and looking at nature will 
make him relish that sweet transcript. He has just 

The Arbutus. 69 

come in from his walk, with a sprig of arbutus, with its 

red fruits, which, he says, arc strawberries. He agrees 
with those who named the arbutus the strawberry tree. 
Virgil affirms that folks once lived on these " mocking " 
strawberries and acorns, a thing which I make bold to 



Letters to her Husband, and to Miss Trevenen. 


Books for the Little Ones — "Original Poems" — Mrs Howitt's 
try- Mrs Hannah, More — Girlish view of her literary pre- 
tensions confirmed by maturer judgment — A group of Author- 
esses — Remarks on Jane Austen's novels by the Lake Poets 
— Hannah More's celebrity accounted for — Letters of Walpole 
and Mrs Barbauld — Love of gossip in the reading Public. 

To Miss Emily TREVENEN, Helston, Cornwall. 

Hampstead, August 1834. — Mary Howitt's book* is a 
perfect love as to its external part ; the prints arc really 
exquisite. The poems I have not read through, but what 
I have read confirm me in my previous opinion that she 
has a genuine vein of poetry, though not, I think, a very 
affluent one. Some of the puffs (one of them at least) 
said that she had even surpassed the authoressesy of the 
" Original Poems" in hitting off something truly poetical, 
yet intelligible to children, in verse. To this particular 
theme of praise I cannot subscribe. I think Mary 
. itt's verses do not contain what all children must 
enter into, in the same degree that the "Original Poems" 
do; but in this respect I think them preferable even as 
rds fitness for youthful (I mean for childish) minds, 
that they represent scarcely anything but what is bright 

* " Sketches of Natural History." 

t Ann and Jane Taylor, da lghters of Isaac Taylor of Ongar, an 1 -: 
of the popular author of the " Natural History of Euthu-,ia^m." — E.C. 

74 Memoir and Letters of Sara Coleridge. 

and joyous. Children should dwell apart from the hard 
and ugly realities of life as long as possible. The 
" Original Poems " give too many revolting pictures of 
mental depravity, bodily torture, and of adult sorrows ; 
and I think the sentiments (the tirades against hunting, 
fishing, shooting, &c., for instance), are morbid, and 
partially false. 

When I say that Mary Howitt's vein is not affluent, I 
mean that she is given to beat oat one fancy as a gold- 
beater does a bit of gold, — that the self-same imagina- 
tion is reproduced, with a little change of attire, in one 
poem after another. 

You speak of Mrs Hannah More. I have seen abun- 
dant extracts from her " Remains," and I think I could 
not read them through if I were to meet with them. I 
fear you will think I want a duly disciplined mind, when 
I confess that her writings are not to my taste. I re- 
member once disputing on this subject with a young 
chaplain, who affirmed that Mrs Hannah More was the 
greatest female writer of the age. " Whom," he asked 
"did I think superior?" I mentioned a score of author- 
esses whose names my opponent had never even heard 
before. I should not now dispute doggedly with a divine 
in a stage coach, but years of discretion have not made 
me alter the opinion I then not very discreetly ex- 
pressed, of the disproportion between Mrs More's cele- 
brity and her literary genius, as compared with that 
of many other female writers whose fame has not 
extended to the ^Asiatic Islands. I cannot see in 
her productions aught comparable to the imaginative 

Female Novelists. 75 

air of Mrs J. Bail lie, the eloquence, and (for a woman) 
the profundity of Madame de Stael, the brilliancy of 
Mrs Hemans (though I think her over-rated), the pleasant 
broad comedy of Miss Burney and Miss Ferrier, the 
melancholy tenderness of Miss Bowles, the pathos of 
Inchbald and Opie, the masterly sketching of Miss 

eworth (who, like Hogarth, paints manners as they 
grow out of morals, and not merely as they are modified 
and tinctured by fashion) ; the strong and touching, 
but sometimes coarse pictures of Miss Martineau, who 
has some highly interesting sketches of childhood in 
humble life; and last not least, the delicate mirth, the 
gently-hinted satire, the feminine decorous humour of 
Jane Austen, who, if not the greatest, is surely the most 
faultless of female novelists. My uncle Southey and my 
father had an equally high opinion of her merits, but 
Mr Wordsworth used to say that though he admitted 
that her novels were an admirable copy of life, he could 
not be interested in productions of that kind ; unless the 
truth of nature were presented to him clarified, as it 
were, by the pervading light of imagination, it had scarce 
any attractions in his eyes ; and for this reason, he took 
little pleasure in the writings of Crabbe. My uncle 
Southey often spoke in high terms of" Castle Rackrent ;" 
he thought it a work of true genius. Miss Austen's 
works are essentially feminine, but the best part of Miss 

eworth's seem as if they had been written by a man. 
" Castle Rackrent " contains genuine humour, a thing 
very rare in the writings of women, and not much 
relished by our sex in general. " Belinda " contains much 

76 Memoir and Letters of Sara Coleridge. 

that is powerful, interspersed, like the fine parts of Scot- 
land, with tracts of dreary insipidity ; and what is good 
in this work I cannot think of so high an order as the 
good things in " Castle Rackrent " and " Emma." I have 
been led to think that the exhibition of disease and bodily 
torture is but a coarse art to " freeze the blood." In- 
deed, you will acquit me of any affected pretence to 
originality of criticism, when you recollect how early my 
mind was biassed by the strong talkers I was in the 
habit of listening to. The spirit of what I sport on 
critical matters, though not always the application, is 
generally derived from the sources that you wot of. 
Yet I know well that we should not go by authority 
without finding out a reason for our faith ; and unless 
we test the opinions learned from others with those of 
the world in general, we are apt to hold them in an 
incorrect, and, at the same time, a more strong and un- 
qualified way than those do from whom we have derived 

Though I think with the ' Spectator,' &c, that Mrs 
Mores very great notoriety was more the work of cir- 
cumstances, and the popular turn of her mind, than owing 
to a strong original genius, I am far from thinking her 
an ordinary woman. She must have had great energy of 
character, and a sprightly versatile mind, which did not 
originate much, but which readily caught the spirit of 
the day, and reflected all the phases of opinion in the 
pious and well-disposed portion of society in a clear and 
lively manner. To read Mrs Mores new book was a 
sort of good work, which made the reader feel satisfied 

Mrs Hannah More. 77 

with him or her self when performed ; and it is agreeable 
to have one's very own opinions presented to one in 
handsome language, and placed in a highly respectable 
point of view. Then Mrs More entered the field when 
there were few to make a figure there beside, and she 
• >ing by Garrick and Johnson. Garrick, who 
pleased all the world, said that the world ought to be 
pleased with her: and Johnson, the Great Mogul of 
literature, was gracious to a pretender whose highest 
ambition was to follow him at a humble distance. He 
would have sneered to death a writer of far subtler 
intellect, and more excursive imagination, who dared to 
deviate from the track to which he pronounced good 
sense to be confined. He even sneered a little at his 
dear pet, Fanny Burney ; she had set up shop for her- 
self, to use a vulgarism ; she had ventured to be original. 
I must add that Mrs More's steady devotion to the 
cause of piety and good morals added the stamp of 
respectability to her works, which was a deserved pass- 
port to their reception ; though such a passport cannot 
enable any production to keep its hold on the general 
mind if it is not characterized by power as well as good 

I admired some of YValpole's Letters in this publica- 
tion, and I read a flattering one from Mrs Barbauld. 
who was a very acute- minded woman herself. Some of 
her Essays are very clever indeed. I like Mrs More's 
style, — so neat and sprightly. The Letters seem to 
contain a great deal of anecdote, the rage of the reading 
public, but that is an article which I am not particu- 
larly fond of. 

78 Memoir and Letters of Sara Colei'idge. 


Reasons why the Greek and Latin Poets ought to continue to form 
part of the course of School Instruction — Lord Byron's 
peculiar experience no argument against it — Milton's scheme 
of Education — Conjecture as to the effect of Circumstances 
on the development of poetic Genius. 

To her Husband. 

Hampstcad, August iZ.'/i, 1834. — I feel quite against 
the notion of substituting a lower set of books for the 
classic poets, in the instruction of youth. Purity and 
force of language and of thought are not so much 
learned by rule as imbibed by early and long habit, so 
far as they are to be gained from without. They 
acquire an interest from association with the " visionary 
gleam" of our first years. The classic author is but 
dimly understood at first ; but his various merits are 
developed with the developing mind of the student, and 
in the end he possesses the charm of an old affection 
and a new love combined. Such works present clear 
and pleasing images to the intellect in its very first 
stage ; and the absence of all that is false in logic and 
corrupt in taste is a vast advantage. 

Such, I think, is the effect of early classical reading 
in those who possess a sensibility and aptness for litera- 
ture ; and those who find no stimulus in the pursuit 
sufficient to make them recur to it in after years, are 
surely better furnished with a little Homer, Virgil, and 
Horace, than with the words of an inferior writer. 

Byron and Milton on Education. 

I cannot think Lord Ryron, with his perverse fastidi- 
ous taste, is a fair instance in this question, great as his 
poetical taste may have been. Horace, nine times out 
o( ten. I should conjecture, is not the occasion of flog- 
ging; faults in construing are but a small part of school 
offences. As to Milton, he would have altered the 
system of old England in many particulars ; but I can- 
not think that the Republic he advocated would ever 
produce a Miltonic mind, attired at least so grace- 
full)- as was that which presented to us the " Paradise 

Query, what would Milton, Shakespeare, and Walter 
Scott have been, had they been born in the United 
States in the nineteenth century ? How would their 
genius have manifested itself? Byron, Wordsworth, 
and Coleridge would, I think, have been less altered 
in the garb of their minds than the former three. 
Shakespeare's plays are full of royal and courtly as- 
sociations ; Milton's style is based upon the ancient 
classics ; chivalry and antiquity are the very spirit of 
Scott's creations. My father ami Wordsworth philoso- 
phized upon man and nature ; their writings are not 
strongly tinctured with an)- particular atmosphere; they 
wiote neither of nor for the fabrics of ancient power, 
and the French Revolution gave their minds a cosmo- 
politan impulse. As to Byron, the tone of his mind in 
his most ambitious attempts was borrowed from them ; 
and his Eastern tales have little to do with European 
antiquity. A travelled American might easily have 
imbibed the spirit they display. 

So Memoir and Letters of Sara Coleridge. • 


Dryden and Chaucer. 
To the Same. 

Hampstcad, September 1834. — Dryden's fables are 
certainly an ideal of the rapid, compressed manner. 
Each line packs as much meaning as possible. But 
Dryden's imagination was fertile and energetic rather 
than grand or subtle ; and he is more deficient in 
tenderness than any poet of his capacity that I am 
acquainted with. PLs English style is animated and 
decorous, full of picture-words, but too progressive for 
elaborate metaphors. 

In " Palamon and Arcite " there is all Dryden's energy 
and richness ; but you feel in such a subject his want of 
tenderness and romance. He seems ever playing with 
his subject, and almost ready to turn the lover's de- 
votion, and the conquering Emily herself, into a jest. 
The sly satire of Chaucer suited his genius ; but there is 
a simple pathos at times in the old writer which is alien to 
Dryden's mind. Chaucer jested upon women like a laugh- 
ing philosopher ; Dryden like a disappointed husband. 


Concentration, not Versatility, the secret of Success in life — Vision- 
aries — The Passion of Envy and the Vice of Cruelty— Is 
Sporting wrong? Practical bearings of the question — Cruelty of 
Children seldom deliberate — Folly of exaggerating Bird-nesting 
into a crime. 

To the Same. 

Hampstead, September, 1834. — Persons who succeed 
in the world without moulding themselves on the world's 

Visionaries. 81 

model arc those who command attention by doing some 
particular thing thoroughly well; a crowd of minor 
achievements pass for nothing, or convey only the notion 
of a studious idler. I would not give a farthing for you 
to be thought clever in architecture, or conversant with 
technicalities of the arts, a fine fencer, dancer, carver, or 
the best shot in England. Details which conduce to 
one great point are profitable, but not if they be entirely 
desultory. Would your moral and intellectual charac- 
ter, your whole man, be a grain the more respectable 
and admirable ? I think it would be much less so if 
these pursuits diverted you in any degree from the main 
earthly objects of your life : your profession as the 
means of an honourable livelihood, and of benefit to 
others ; literature as ennobling and blessing your own 
life, and enabling you to extend those advantages to 
the world which enhances the dignity of the pursuit ; 
and those duties of home which love and religion 


These writers on Natural History are quite as fan- 
ciful and vague in their theories, quite as often raise a 
structure on a quaking bog, in their discussion upon 
facts, as those who arc conversant with abstract mat- 
ters. To be a visionary depends on the temper, not on 
the subject of contemplation, and none are more misled 
by imagination than the enthusiasts of mammon, or 
those who go about to establish the truth of facts in 
which they take an interest. I knew a man of the 
world who had a gold and silver dream about Peru, and 
who went thither upon such uncertain information, and 

82 Memoir and Letters of Sara Coleridge. 

drew such solid inferences from shadowy premises as 
astonished many of his friends. Over-eagerness to find 
particular things true leads us away from the truth. 

And what a visionary is the envious man ! He walketh 
in a vain shadow, and disquieteth himself in vain ; he is 
possessed and agitated and impelled by something which 
exists only in his own fancy. The dog in the manger 
is an old apologue ; Lut I suppose a dog can no more 
be capable of envy than of veneration. May not envy 
be defined as a debility of the imagination, the condi- 
tion or proximate causes of which are want of energy 
of mind and irritability of temperament ? Envy no 
doubt tends to harden the heart, but it is not naturally 
connected with hard-heartedness. You will see very 
charitable and compassionate persons extremely envi- 
ous. But people eminently envious are never good- 
tempered ; and though persons of strong intellectual 
powers are not free from the feeling, it seldom tyrannises 
over minds that reflect much, and are freshened and sti- 
mulated by a variety and choice of speculations. It is a 
modification of selfishness which can only exist through 
a false estimate of ourselves and others, and the things 
of this world. It is allied to pride and covetousness, 
but more closely to the former than the latter, because 
objects of pride are objects of imagination more than those 
of covetousness. Envious persons are always proud, 
but not always grossly covetous. Envy argues an obli- 
quity of the reasoning powers, and never exists in any 
great degree in any very candid and sincere mind, but it 
does not imply wilful injustice; candour is unconscious, or 

Cruelty. 83 

at least natural honesty, but justice is honesty of the will 
pursued upon principle Envious persons arc not neces- 
sarily unconscientious, though envy, like every irregular 
ion, tends to obscure the perception of right, and to 
weaken the moral power. I might add that envy is a 
weakness of human nature, not a peculiarity of indivi- 
duals ; and he who subdues it the most, or naturally 
has the least of it, is the person to be remarked, as he 
who is most under its influence is most noted for evil. 
It is not like shyness or openness, which is characteristic 
of one person, while the reverse is characteristic of an- 
other. . . . In the work on Xat. History, I met with some 
good-natured, common-place observations to this effect, 
that the coarse and ignorant are apt to be coarsely and 
ignorantly cruel. I added this note — 

" Man is lord of the creation, yet his is not an absolute 
monarch)-. There are limitations which the demands of 
his own heart rather than their rights insist upon ; but 
they are not very easily defined, and the line between 
use and abuse has never yet been strictly drawn. To 
take an abstract pleasure in sorrow of the meanest thing 
that feels, is the mark of a degraded nature — to indulge 
in such a pleasure is to degrade it wilfully; but how 
far may we justifiably consult our pleasure or our pride, 
irdless of such suffering ? Falconry and hare-hunt- 
ing have their apologists among the refined and reflec- 
tive, as well as angling and shooting, which indeed 
occasion less protracted misery. Bird-nesting has not 
been defended, because peasant boys care not to defend 
themselves from imputations on their sensibility. All 

84 Memoir and Letters of Sara Coleridge. 

perceive that it is unworthy of a reasoning creature to 
inflict pain by way of venting irritated feelings ; but 
how far we may make it matter of amusement, or at 
least connect amusement with it, the conscience does 
not so readily determine. The contemplation of suffer- 
ing for itself alone is, in very rare instances, I believe, 
the source of gratification. Cruelty is said to be natural, 
because children tease and kill living creatures, but in 
the same breath you are told that they do it out of 
ignorance, which no doubt is united with a pleasing 
sense of power. No, I believe that positive cruelty is a 
mark of the utmost corruption of our sin-prone nature, 
and, as in Nero and Domitian, the result of sophistica- 
tion. Even boys that torture a mouse or a hedgehog, 
are not delighted, I should think, with the pain of the 
animal — they do not image that very distinctly, but are 
amused with observing its conduct under those trying 
circumstances. In this case the sensibilities are dor- 
mant, or, put it at the worst, they are naturally torpid 
or obtuse, not excited and demonised, as in some extra- 
ordinary cases, where a hard and turbulent nature has 
been stimulated and trained by very peculiar circum- 
stances. I think we may say that the more the excite- 
ment of any sport with animals proceeds from the exhi- 
bition of suffering, and the more inconsiderable are the 
benefit and pleasure arising collaterally in proportion to 
the suffering occasioned, the more it may be reprobated 
as cruel and degrading." 

This note has swelled under my transcribing hand. 
I was going to add, that in treating of the conduct of man 

Slavery. 85 

towards animals, we must not forget that they arc things, 
as my father says, and not persons. They have no 
rig/its to regulate this matter, for an animal may be 
used in any way if the needs of man require it. But 
man violates his own dignity and hardens his heart if 
the suffering or evil is disproportioncd to the necessity, 
and, as my father would say, every unhardened heart 
and unperverted mind is "possessed" by this idea. To 
strike an animal in passion is a cruel and degrading 
action more than an unjust one. It is cruel, because it 
is to inflict pain without necessity. To strike a man 
would be unjust as well as cruel ; he has a right not to 
be struck, independent of all circumstances. He can 
only forfeit his right by his own acts and deeds. I can- 
not think that slaves in the West Indies arc practically 
treated as things. It would be impossible to manage 
any reasoning creature with advantage to the manager 
in this manner. There is a sort of compact between the 
master and slave. " If you will serve me well you shall 
have such and such advantages," is the strain of every 
prosperous slave-holder to his work people. But it was 
a vile state of things that the contrary was the theory 
which the laws of the country were regulated by, though, 
as you and many others think, this evil was not to be 
remedied on a sudden by Act of Parliament. However, 
to return from this excursion to the point of practice in 
my mind at present. It is very difficult to lay down 
rules for children or others on a matter which cannot be 
brought to any standard more fixed than the varying 
requirements of different men, these requirements being 

86 Memoir and Letters of Sara Coleridge. 

defined by tastes, desires, and habits as various as the 
minds and situations of the agents. Nor is there any 
law by which you can condemn bear-baiting and up- 
hold angling. Even if the fish are eaten, they are a mere 
luxury to the angling idler and his family. I think it 
ill-judged to lea,: Jiildren, to look with contempt or dis- 
like upon uneducated boys amusing themselves with 
bird-nesting. What precept of the gospel, or the spirit 
of it even, do they infringe ? The sorrow of the bird 
is no part of the pleasure. The less we teach Chris- 
tianity and humanity by way of censure upon others 
the better. The animal suffering is very inconsiderable ; 
the bird builds again immediately. But I would never 
put a child in the way of bird-nesting. I would say, 
" Don't take the eggs, it is a pity — the poor bird will 
miss them ; " but I would not teach forbearance as a 
Christian duty, nor treat the matter with the same 
solemnity that I should do the unkindness to a sister 
or playmate, or insolence to a servant. If I saw a child 
tease or torture an animal, I should of course say that 
is cruel, and I should let the child perceive that the 
animal feels bodily pain. The absence of all fore- 
thought or anticipation in the creature is not a reflec- 
tion to which it would be useful to lead a child's mind. 
But all exaggerated pictures of animal suffering, the 
investing them with human sentiments (except in an 
apologue which the child soon understands), tirades 
against hunting, shooting, &c, I would let alone. And 
the author of " Hartleap Well" is as great an enemy 
of this false sentimentality as any in the kingdom. 

TJic Prima and the Epic. 87 


The Drama and the Epic — Painting among the Ancients — Sense 
of the Picturesque in Nature, a development of Modern 

To the Same. 

Hampsteady September 1S34. — In a drama the event is 
to display character ; in an epic the characters are to 
carry on the event. Drama is biography, the Epic his- 
tory. Lear, Othello, are the subjects of those dramas, 
the Loss of Eden, the destruction of Priam's power and 
domestic blessing by the anger of Achilles, those of 
Milton's and Homer's poems. In an Epic, only such a 
diversity of characters as the event would naturally 
assemble, and such qualities in the hero as would bring 
about the event, are essential to the conception of this 
sort of poem. In the Drama, characters are chosen for 
the subject, because their qualities are interesting and 
remarkable ; and the proof of this is their bringing 
about particular events, or showing a certain line of 
conduct in peculiar circumstances. The epic would be 
retarded by the exhibition of passion in all its stages, 
such as we have in Othello ; it would be out of propor- 
tion, and would engross the whole attention from the 
general narrative 

There can be no doubt that Cicero had a feeling of 
the interest to be derived from a copy of living objects 
on canvas, or even of those of still life, as the scene and 
circumstance of action. But the picturesqueness of the 
group may not have been the source of interest (at least 
not to the consciousness of the beholder, though no 

88 Memoir and Letters of Sara Coleridge. 

doubt it did enhance the gratification), but the life 
pourtrayed in the picture. The beholder was to be in- 
structed, animated, or soothed by the story of some 
event, or knowledge of some fact, rather than astonished, 
gratified, entertained by the exhibition of art, and spec- 
tacle of abstract beauty. I think this is the general 
distinction between the ancient and modern notions in 
regard to painting, though there may be exceptions, 
and the times of old may have had an infusion of our 
feelings, as we doubtless partake of that sort of interest 
which was the chief and most defined one to them. 
The pleasure to be derived from the power of art was 
by no means so decidedly modern, as a sense of the 
picturesqueness of inanimate combinations. The latter 
must belong to a people who have long been refined, a 
people who have leisure to luxuriate in things which 
have no being but in the imagination, and who have hit 
upon combinations and notions of the agreeable and 
beautiful, which were never suggested to the fancy even 
of sages and philosophers of simpler ages. Don't you 
think that much of the best modern poetry would be 
unintelligible to Cicero? — I mean as to the sentiment 
of it. 


The Sublime and the Beautiful — Comparative Popularity of Shakes- 
peare, Milton, and Ben Jonson — Education of Taste by an 
Exclusive Study of the Best Models. 

To the Same. 

1834. — It is perhaps more true to say that the sublime 

Popular Poetry. 89 

cannot be so long dwelt upon as the beautiful, than that 
it is less popular. That style is, I think, as easily felt 
and estimated by the uncultivated taste as the other. 
But from its own nature it cannot be long sustained, for 
awe and terror owe half of their being to novelty and 
surprise ; yet an appeal to those feelings, or rather an 
attack upon them, is as surely effective as any in the 
world. Indeed I believe far more persons can appre- 
ciate the merits of " Theodore and Honoria" (the super- 
natural scene of which is sublime in the German style, 
though not in the more elevated one of Milton and 
Dante) than of" Palamon and Arcitc," which is beautiful ; 
or of "The Cock and the Fox," which is witty and 
exquisite. Why and how far is Shakespeare more 
popular than Milton? Not (to conjecture merely) 
because there is more of the sublime in Milton's poem, 
but simply because persons unused to dwell upon what 
is abstract, who have acquired no knowledge of literary 
perfections, are unable to keep up their attention during 
the course of an epic, especially one which embodies a 
scheme of theology, and therefore demands the cogniz- 
ance of the understanding throughout the main part of 
it, to be relished at all. The only parts of Shakespeare 
that are popular, as you have stated,* arc the selections 
for the stage, the incidents of some of his plots, and the 
-ions exhibited by some of his characters, though 
they are far from being understood. There is an upper 
surface which catches the general eye, but what lies 

* In his " Introduction to Homer," a second edition of which was 
being prepared by my father in 1834. — E. C. 

90 Memoir and Letters of Sara Coleridge. 

beneath, which is indicated to the refined taste, or to the 
fine perception of genius, is not generally caught. The 
verdant lawn presents a pleasing aspect to the eye of 
the rustic, yet it is not so interesting as to that of the 
florist, the botanist, the physiologist, who perceived a 
thousand peculiarities in that mass of vegetation which 
are unseen by others, and who can pierce the bosom of 
the earth to discover how, and why, and whence it has 
arisen. " Paradise Regained " is less popular than 
" Paradise Lost," yet it contains comparatively little of 
the sublime; but it is too abstract to be generally 
relished ; it has no merits but those which a refined 
taste can alone appreciate. " The White Doe," the 
" Flower and the Leaf," and many other such plays of 
pure imagination can never be popular, in whole or in 
part. " The Pilgrim's Progress " has a complete upper 
surface of popularity. How little is Shakespeare's deli- 
cate sportive dialogue now appreciated, such as that 
between Hotspur and his wife ! Coarser copies have 
superseded it. Ben Jonson's plays were received with 
rapture, when plot and incident were not to be had else- 
where, or not in any more popular form ; and his repu- 
tation was upheld by the finer wits who frequented the 
theatre in those days. But now, who, except bookish 
persons, knows anything about them, or perceives that 
the " Fox " and the " Alchemist " are works of art a 
thousand times finer in design, and more exquisite in 
execution than those of modern vulgar dramatists ? 
When good works alone were presented from the first 
to the populace, even their taste must have been simpler 

. I I r enerdble Lady. 9 1 

and finer than In times when it becomes sophisticated 
and yet degraded by inferior trash. If a peasant were 
shown daily a collection of Claudes and Con 
alone, he would be far more in the way of learning to 
admire them than if such pictures were thinly scattered 
amongst a set of glaring daubs. 


Mrs Joanna Baillie's Taste in Dress — Opinion of the Poetess and 
of her Sister, expressed by an eminent Savant. 

To the Same. 

Hatnpsteady September 4, 1S34. — I saw Mrs Joanna 
Baillie before dinner. She wore a delicate lavender 

satin bonnet: and Mrs J says she is fond of dress, 

and knows what every one lias on. Her taste is cer- 
tainly exquisite in dress, though (strange to say) not, in 
my opinion, in poetry. I more than ever admired the 
harmony of expression and tint, the silver hair and 
silvery-grey eye, the pale skin, and the look which speaks 
of a mind that has had much communing with high 
imagination, though such intercourse is only perceptible 
now by the absence of everything which that lofty spirit 
would not set his seal upon. Sir John Ilerschel says 
that Mrs Agnes Baillie is " by far the cleverer woman of 
the two ; " but this is the speech of a clever man, a man 
whose acute mind can pierce some of the mysteries of 
the world of fact, but which does not sympathise with 


92 Memoir and Letters of Sara Coleridge. 

all the beings of the world of imagination. And then, 
in Mrs Joanna Baillie, age has slackened the active part 
of genius, nnd yet is in some sort a substitute for it. 
There is a declining of mental exercitation. She has 
had enough of that ; and now for a calm decline, and 
thoughts of Heaven. 

Miss Herschel. 

Mrs J says that Caroline Herschel, sister of the 

late Dr Herschel, is a person of uncommon attainments 
and abilities, and is a Fellow of the Royal Society. She 
is now eighty-four ; her letters from Berlin, where she 
resides, are full of vigour and spirit. She says : — " My 
brother and I have sometimes stood out star-gazing till 
two o'clock, and have been told next day that, the night 
before, our neighbour's pigs had died of the frost." 

Hard Words in the Latin Grammar useful to young Learners. 

Those odd words, Genitive, Vocative, Prceterpluperfect, 
&c, are helps to the memory. They have a quaint uni- 
form of their own, and are something like one another, 
but unlike all other things. 

Geography made Easy. 

How much knowledge may be put into a child, by 
good economy of instruction, without employing his mind 
more than is perfectly wholesome ! To Herby the map 
is a sort of game, and one that contains far more variety 

The Christian Spirit. 93 

than any play that could be devised. To find out 
Sumatra or Owhyhee, to trace the Ganges, and follow 
the Equator in every different map, is a supreme amuse- 
ment ; and the notions of hot and cold, wet and dry, icy 
seas and towering palm-trees, with water dashing, and 
tigers roaming, and butterflies flitting, and his going and 
seeing them, and getting into tossing boats, and climbing 
by slow degrees up the steep mountain, are occupying 
his little mind, and give a zest to the whole affair. And 
then there is the pleasure of preaching it all over again 
to Nurse ! 

Right Opinions must be held in the right Spirit. 
It is a fortunate thing to be induced by any circum- 
stances to adopt the most edifying opinions, whichever 
they may be; but of still more consequence is the man- 
ner in which we hold and maintain them. Indeed, even 
in the most vital considerations, the manner of holding it 
is almost more than the speculative, abstract creed. I 
never can forget that the most (apparently) Christian- 
spirited creature I ever knew was a Unitarian. 


1834 {continued) 

Letters to her Husband and her eldest Brother, and to Mrs 


Composition of" Pretty Lessons for Good Children." 

To Hartley Coleridge, Esq. 

Nab Cottage^ Grasmere 1834. — What you say- 
about Natural History, dear Hartley, is quite accordant 
with my own feelings ; but I am not studying it, or 
reading anything systematically. A few pretty works 
with coloured prints have been lent to me, and I too* an 
especial interest in the subject, not only for the attrac- 
tions you mention, but because I could talk to little 
Herby about the birds and beasts, and show him the 

I have also amused myself, and instructed him, with 
mama's assistance, by means of little rhymes, which I 
ink-printed upon cards. Henry had a fancy for having 
some of them printed, as a little record of some of my 
occupations during a season of weakness and suffering, 
when I was shut out from almost all pleasures and 
means of usefulness. In this view you will look at the 
little book which I send you. It is worth nothing in 
any other. It may amuse some other children, but it 
cannot be to any other child what these verses have 
been to Herby, struck off as the}- were for the occasion, 
an occasion in which he was specially interested. 
I G 

98 Memoir and Letters of Sara Coleridge. 


Chaucer's Poetry not that of a primitive Age. 

To her Husband. 

It appears to me absurd to speak of Chaucer as living 
in the " infancy of our poetry." Chaucer's metre is 
proved by Tyrwhitt to be, as old Speght declared, quite 
perfect, if the words are pronounced as they were in his 
day. So says Sir W. Scott. Time only has " mis- 
metred " him, as he himself apprehended. Dryden says 
that numbers were in their nonage till Denham and 
Waller appeared. This is a strange misappreciation, as 
critics think now, of Spenser and Chaucer. And then 
as to the matter of Chaucer, it cannot be called the off- 
spring of a rude age, or even of a simple age. Much of 
it is satire, which is the growth of an age of social insti- 
tutions. As to the refinements and complications of 
civilization they may go on ad infinitum, and poetry 
will gain from that a greater variety of objects, and a 
different tone. Yet it may be perfect in kind at a very 
early period. Wordsworth, I think, would have been as 
fine a poet in Chaucer's age as now. The garb of his 
mind would doubtless have been different ; perhaps 
some of his poetry would have been less exquisite ; and 
certainly it may be supposed that certain circumstances 
are more congenial to certain minds than to others 
equally powerful. But a vivid imagination, with strong 
intellect and talent, must manifest itself, I imagine, 
under any circumstances. 

Enthusiasm. 99 


Note on Enthusiasm — Mischievous effect of wrong Names given to 

Moral Qualities. 

To the Same. 

My mind misgives me about some notclets that I 

have pencilled in J 's " Journal of Art." Most of 

them are about facts in Natural History ; but one is on the 
use of the word "Enthusiasm." Knapp says, "he must 
disclaim the epithet Enthusiastic. 1 lis is not an ecstasy 
that glows, fades, and expires, but a calm, deep-rooted 
conviction, &c" I have said — " Must Enthusiasm ex- 
pire ? That of Linnaeus survived through pain and 
weakness. Neither can I think that enthusiasm pre- 
cludes calmness and rationality. That ardour which 
does so is fanaticism. But the enthusiasm of great 
minds is a steady heat, and though opposite, not con- 
trary, to sobriety, as generosity is opposed to prudence, 
not exclusive of it. Enthusiasm with some persons is a 
synonym for extravagance. But how otherwise can we 
designate that habit of mind which impels to the most 
arduous and persistent efforts in pursuit of what must be 
its own reward, and the object of an abstract devotion ? 
and was not this the primary meaning of enthusiasm ? " 
I do think that words from being used in a half wrong, 
or wholly wrong sense, reflect upon the things originally 
signified a portion of that misapprehension. The word 
enthusiasm is taken fur extravagance, and thus genuine 
enthu«;msm is looked upon as in some sort extravagant, 
ict religionists arc called serious, till undis- 

ioo Memoir and Letters of Sara Coleridge. 

tinguishing wo. "Idlings connect superstition or spiritual 
self-deception with staid reflective piety. Persons of 
warm fancy and weak judgment are called romantic, 
through which an elevated spiritual temper, and imagi- 
native mode of viewing subjects and objects, is deemed 
inseparable from a certain degree of self-delusion and 
want of skill in the executive government of daily life ; 
and people will not perceive that true poetry is truth, 
and that fiction conveys reality, because both have 
been falsified, and made false to their proper aim ; the 
vehicle itself, and the thing to be conveyed, being both 


Cowper's " Iliad and Odyssey " — Requisites for a successful 
Translation of Homer. 

To the Same. 

I hate Cowper's slow, dry, blank verse, so utterly 
alien to the spirit of the poem, and the minstrel mode 
of delivery. How could it have suited any kind of 
recitative or melody, or the accompaniment of any music? 
It is like a pursy, pompous, but unpolished, man moving 
laboriously in a stiff dress of office. Those boar and 
lion-hunting similes describing swift motion, are dread- 
fully dragging in this sort of verse. In Milton there is 
little of this rapidity and flash to be conveyed. How 
meditative are the speeches of the fallen host ? We 
feel conscious of the scope of the poem — that they have 
ages of time before them to work in, that they are not 

Cowper's "Iliad." 101 

planning a scheme to be executed in days, or weeks, or 
months. In Homer, the time of action seems to be the 
life of individual men, and all is measured according to 
this scale. In Milton, we are reading of superhuman 
agencies, of times with which day, month, or year had 

thing to do. 

The only sort of translation of Homer, I think, which 
wuild be thoroughly gratifying, should be on Pope's 
plan, but better executed. There should be his brilliance 
and rapidity — or rather that of Dryden's in the Fables, 
- — with that thorough understanding of the spirit and 
proprieties of the whole poem, which would enable the 
translator (he being a person of some poetical genius) to 
give substitutes for the exact physical meaning of 
certain passages, vet to preserve the spin', and to 
maintain the rich flow of verse, and keep the genius of 
the language unviolated, at the same time that he tran- 
sported us to ancient times and distant places. Cowper's 
poem is like a Camera Lucida portrait, — far more unlike 
in expression and general result than one less closely 
copied as to lines and features. In a different material 
there must be a different form to give a similar effect. 


e Etymologies Dr Johnson, his Mental Powers, md Moral 
racter — Quiet Conclusion of " P Lost," and of the 

Part of Shylock in the "Merchant of V Sileno 

Revenge; Eloquence of Love and Grief, and Indignation. 

the Same. 
Hampstead, October 1834. — I am often provoked by 

102 Memoir and Letters of Sara Coleridge. 

the silly derivations of words given in books. Two 
doctors (Johnson and Webster) have derived butterfly 
from butter, — one because these flies come in butter 
season (they come from March to November, and what 
is butter season ?), and the other because a very common 
butterfly is yellow ! No, no, the vox popidi that makes 
language is a much more accurate reporter of nature, 
and of all truth, than a guessing writer of books. 
Butterflies are better flies — larger flies, the largest sort 
of flies that you meet with. Poor Dr Johnson was often 
dead tired when he made that dictionary, though it was 
on the whole a favourite work. But he had no fine per- 
ceptions about objects of sight, — that is apparent in all 
that remains of his mind. He was indeed half blind ; 
but I do not agree with those who attribute his coldness 
in regard to painting, natural landscape, &c, to that. 
He might have seen enough to admire, but his mind 
was anti-poetical ; he was, as my father would have- 
said, more keen than subtle. To call his mind gigantic, 
if the dimensions of the mind are meant, I believe is 
erroneous; but he used his powers with giantly strength. 
If an ordinary scholar could bring readily into play all 
his latent power and knowledge, he would appear a 
giant in conversation. Johnson's written works leave no 
such impression ; but he was a man of deep and strong 
feeling; his mind was vigorous and saw all objects 
clearly within a certain range, and he had the power of 
arranging his thoughts and the various parts of a subject 
in an effective manner, and expressing his views with 
clearness and energy. Amid an apparent consciousness 

Conclusion of "Paradise Los/." 103 

of frailty, and sense of suffering, there is a strong cleav- 
ing to that which is good and holy. It is this mournful 
dignity, this religious humanity, which interest me in 
his writings, and he had just so much imagination as 
will enable a man to picture his views and feelings thus 

clearly to others 

I think the concluding verses of " Paradise Lost" are 
truly sublime. There is an awful beauty about them. 

I he cherubim descended ; on the ground, 
Gliding meteorous, as evening mist 
Risen from a river o'er the marish glides, 
And gathers ground fast at the labourer's heel, 
Homeward returning." 

How skilfully are the points of likeness here just 
pointed at, and then the image is abandoned, just when 
it has done its work, and attention is drawn off to a 
new one ; the flaming sword of God, the comet, and 
Libyan sands. Then the pathetic gentle-heartedness of 
the angel, hastening, yet leading them away; and they 
looking back once more saw their " once happy seat " 
waved over by that threatening hand ; and then the few 
sad, subdued lines, so like human life and its submission, 
with a sort of sad effort after reparation, to an inevitable 
calamity. Just so quietly does Shylock go off the 
scene — "I am not very well, I would go home." It is 
remarkable how devoid all Shylock's language is of 
exaggeration. There is no amplifying, no playing with 
the subject, and waving it up and down like a streamer 
to catch different lights and display itself in various 

104 Memoir and Letters of Sara Coleridge. 

fantastic attitudes, as Shakespeare's lovers expatiate and 
add stroke after stroke to the picture of their possessed 
fancy. Shylock's passion of revenge is expressed, accord- 
ing to the view in my father's preface, by a bare, keen 
reiteration of certain matters of fact; he seems to shrink 
and double himself up like a crouching tiger, in order 
to shoot out all his energies when let loose upon their 
prey ; when the moment patiently waited for arrives, he 
thrusts forth his cutting blade in the face of his enemy 
— you did thus and thus — see, you fool, what you 
imagined of me, and what I have made you. It is 
these sharp contrasts of neither more nor less than the 
actual facts, which constitute all his oratory, and all his 
feelings of hatred are shewn by hugging the reality with 
a fierce intensity, saying the very thing which was in 
every part of his heart over and over again. Indignation 
that breathes scorn, and believes deeply in the wrong- 
fulness of the offender, but is not transfigured into 
malice; strong grief that has not collapsed into despair, 
are almost as expatiative as love ; " O that I were a 
mockery-king of snow, to melt before the sun of Boling- 
broke," is the language of a wandering fancy. And the 
Scriptures are full of such illustrations of sorrowfulness ; 
for grief rushes out eager for a vent, and roams forth, 
seeking for employment, for a change from the intoler- 
able misery of passiveness. Anger will talk much and 
strongly, but not so fancifully as love and grief; it stems 
the fancy by its violence, and those passions which, like 
revenge, impel to action, employ the energies in another 
way. As a watery mirror shaken by the wind presents 

Criticism. 105 

only the confused fragments of a picture, the mind 
agitated by vehement anger reflects no continuous 
imager}-, like sorrow which L-< still and meditative. Yet 
there is a sort of sullen resentment, which seems {>> 
Stupify the soul, and a scorn which is unutterable ; it 
fears to be dissipated in words, and imparts an energy 
which facilitates restraint. Scorn argues self-possession; 
a man in a passion cannot scorn. 


Authority of Criticism— The Judicial Faculty as much a part of the 
Human Mind as the Inventive Faculty— Great Art appeals to 
Sympathies which exist in all. 

To the Same. 

H — 's position is plainly absurd ; for what but critici-m 
is to establish the merits of any w< »rk ? Does he mean that 
poets only can judge of poetry, and that they alone are 
to criticise each other ? Even according to this view, 
is he to prove that any particular critic is not a 
poet potentially, whether he have published or not ? It 
seems to favour his notion that poets who write above 
the age, and whose productions are of an original mould, 
are often unjustly criticised in the beginning; but they 
are so as much by the critical | f the day, as by 

the men of judgment who have no poetical power. 
Witness Dryden's first impressions of Paradise Lost. 
legrees it is perceived that the new type may be 

106 Memoir and Letters of Sara Coleridge. 

tried on the same principle as the old admired models, 
and that by analogy with them, though not by an un- 
fair comparison, it will stand its ground. But the critical 
faculty must decide upon this question, be it in poet or 
prose-man, and the only question is, can the faculty of 
judging poetry be possessed apart from poetical power?" 
I should answer, yes, undoubtedly. Waller had no per- 
ception of Milton's merits. But he was not a great poet. 
Neither was Dryden great in comparison with Milton ; 
and according to that view none could judge of Milton 
but Milton himself. Certainly no critic could so mould 
and refine the taste and judgment of the age as he who 
afforded such models to exercise them upon ; but the 
poet does not create in others the faculty of judging, 
though he may stimulate and direct it ; that faculty 
must decide whether they are models or not, after all. 
My father and Wordsworth may have improved the poeti- 
cal taste of the age, but that does not exempt them from 
being amenable to criticism, for unless they can touch 
the feelings, or win the verdict of the judgment of men, 
they are not great poets ; I mean the judgment, not of 
the unlearned, but that faculty where it is really de- 
veloped. Those poets were wronged by particular 
critics, who did not try their merits fairly, but that does 
not prove them above criticism. The same may be said 
of painting. The great painter is to be appreciated not 
by painters alone; he appeals to faculties latent in all, 
and possessed in various degrees by various men. They 
may be oftener developed in painters than in others ; 
but I believe that he who can execute a fine Dutch 

Botany. 107 

piece, may be a very indifferent judge of a poetical 
landscape, or sublime representation from Scripture, 

except as to the technical part. E thinks the 

Titian (Bacchus and Ariadne) is only excellent for 
colour, and that Claude has no merit different from 
Turner. Then all that poetry, that sentiment, which 
others have perceived in those pictures, are either a 
mere accident, or a matter of imagination in the be- 
holder. "The critic is only to abstract rules from the 
poet's practice," — that I cannot admit. If judgment be 
a faculty of the mind, it must be innate, consequently 
as old as the inventive faculty; and as soon as ever a 

t wrote, a critic might judge whether he had written 
well or ill. "The critic has only to inquire whether the 
world has acknowledged the poet," then the world is the 

inal critic that decided the matter; and the w< 
decided that Byron was finer than Wordsworth, Camp- 
bell than Coleridj 


Botany— The Linnaan System quite as natural as the Modern 
Classification, though less comprehensive — Both Arrange- 
ments ought to be learned by Botanical Students. 

To the Same. 

Professor S makes an attack upon the Linnaean 

tern of Botany, because a man on a savage island 

would find it of no use ! Now, I think, that as the facts 
on which he founded it are true, it ought to be learned 

10S Memoir and Letters of Sara Coleridge. 

in addition to any more philosophical arrangement that 
may have been since devised. The knowledge of a science 
is truly useful, not for any one particular accidental 
purpose to which it may be applied, but generally for 
the enlargement of the mind, the confirmation of general 
principles, elucidation of the natural and metaphysical 
world, and consequently the practical good of mankind, 
on the broad scale, and in special instances. And then 
the very instance he adduces is so inconclusive. On a 
desert island a man that sees a herb without bracts may 
be sure it is fit to eat, because he may be sure it belongs 
to the cabbage tribe. Next year a new sort of cabbage, 
that is a deadly poison, may be discovered. Night- 
shade and potatoes are of the same natural family ; but 
who that first saw the one after old acquaintance with 
the other could derive any practical benefit from the 
knowledge of that fact ? Then, as if the new classifica- 
tion was more natural than the other! In one system 
plants are classified according to the number of pistils 
and stamens: in another according to some more general 
features of agreement ; but in both nothing more than 
the agreement actually specified is implied. Both arrange- 
ments ought to be known. Certainly the one called 
Natural is better, because it embraces a combination 
of agreements. And it may be proved, that plants, 
like the animal creation, may be arranged in classes, 
one within another, till you come to the particular 

Death of her Father. 109 


On the Death of Samuel Taylor Colei ;e* — Details of his I 
Illness — His Will, Letters, and Literary Remains — Respect 
lion felt for him by those with whom he lived — Pro- 
bable Influence of his writings on the Course of Religious 
Thought —Remarks on his Genius and Character by different 
Critics — His last Readings and Notes. 


Hampstead, Oct. 1834. — My dearest L., Your affec- 
tionate and interesting letter gave me great pleasure 
and gratified my feelings in regard to my dear father, 
whose memory still occupies the chief place in my 
thoughts. Your appreciation of his character and 
genius, my dear friend, would endear you to me were 
there no other ties between us. In his death we mourn 
not only the removal of one closely united to us by 
nature and intimacy, but the extinction of a light which 
made earth more spiritual, and heaven in some sort 
more visible to our apprehension. You know how long 
and severely he suffered in his health ; yet, to the last, 
he appeared to have such high intellectual gratifications 
that we felt little impulse to pray for his immediate 
release; and though his infirmities had been grievously 
increasing of late years, the life and vigour of his mind 
were so great that they hardly led those around him to 
think of his dissolution. His frail house of clay was so 
illumined, that its decaying condition was the less per- 
ceptible. I lis departure after all seemed to come sud- 

* At Mr Gillman's house, the Grove, Highgate, on the 25th of July 1S34. 
— E.C. 

1 10 Memoir and Letters of Sara Coleridge. 

denly upon us. We were first informed of his danger 
on Sunday the 20th of July, and on Friday the 25th 
lie was taken from us. For several days after fatal 
symptoms appeared, his pains were very great ; they 
were chiefly in the region of the bowels, but were at 
last subdued by means of laudanum, administered in 
different ways ; and for the last thirty-six hours of his 
existence he did not suffer severely. When he knew 
that his time was come he said, that he hoped by the 
manner of his death to testify the sincerity of his faith ; 
and hoped that all who had heard of his name would 
know that he died in that of the English Church. Henry 
saw him for the last time on Sunday, and conveyed his 
blessing to my mother and myself; but we made no 
attempt to see him, and my brothers were not sent for, 
because the medical men apprehended that the agitation 
of such interviews would be more than he ought to 
encounter. Not many hours before his death he was 
raised in his bed and wrote a precious faintly-scrawled 
scrap, which we shall ever preserve, recommending his 
faithful nurse, Harriet, to the care of his family. Mr 
Green, who had so long been the partner of his literary 
labours, was with him at the last, and to him, on the 
last evening of his life, he repeated a certain part of his 
religious philosophy, which he was especially anxious to 
have accurately recorded. He articulated with the 
utmost difficulty, but his mind was clear and powerful, 
and so continued till he fell into a state of coma, which 
lasted till he ceased to breathe about six o'clock in the 
morning. His body was opened, according to his own 

Disposal of his Literary Remains. i i i 

earnest request — the causes of his death were suffi- 
ciently manifest in the state of the vital parts ; but 
that internal pain from which he suffered more or less 
during his whole life was not to be explained, or only 
by that which medical men call nervous sympathy. A 
few out of his many deeply attached and revering 
friends attended his remains to the grave, together with 
my husband and Edward ; * and that body which did 
him such "grievous wrong" was laid in its final resting- 
place in Highgate churchyard. His executor, Mr 
Green, after the ceremony, read aloud his will, and was 
greatly overcome in performing his task. It is indeed a 
most affecting document. What little he had to be- 
queath (a policy of assurance worth about .£2560) is 
my mother's for life, of course, and will come to her 
children equally after her time. Mr Green has the sole 
power over my father's literary remains, and the philo- 
sophical part he will himself prepare for publication ; 
some theological treatises he has placed in the hands of 
Mr Julius Hare of Cambridge and his curate, Mr 
ling, (both men of great ability). Henry will 
arrange literary and critical pieces — notes on the 
margins of books, or any miscellaneous productions of 
that kind that may be met with among his MSS., and 
probably some letters will appear if they can be col- 
lected. I fear there will be some difficulty in this; but 
I have understood that many written by him at dif- 
ferent times exhibit his peculiar power of thought and 
expression, and ought not to be lost to the world if they 

* The Rev. Edward Coleridge, his nephew. — E. C. 

1 1 2 Memoir a?id Letters of Sara Coleridge. 

could be recovered. No man has been more deeply 
beloved than my dear father ; the servants at the 
Grove wept for him as for a father, and Mr and Mrs 
Gillman speak of their loss as the heaviest trial that has 
ever befallen them, though they have had their full 
share of sorrow and suffering. Mrs Gillman's notes, 
written since his death, are precious testimonies to me 
of his worth and attaching qualities. In one of them 
she speaks of "the influence of his beautiful nature 
on our domestics, so often set down by friends or 
neighbours to my good management, his forgiving 
nature, his heavenly-mindedness, his care not to give 
offence unless duty called on him to tell home truth ; 
his sweet and cheerful temper, and so many moral 
qualities of more or less value, and all adorned by his 
Christian principles. His was indeed Christianity. To 
do good was his anxious desire, his constant prayer — 
and all with such real humility — never any kind of 
worldly accommodating the truth to any one — yet not 
harsh or severe — never pretending to faults or failings 
he had not, nor denying those he thought he had! But, 
as he himself said of a dear friend's death, ' it is re- 
covery and not death. Blessed are they that sleep in 
the Lord — his life is hidden in Christ. In his Re- 
deemer's life it is hidden, and in His glory will it be 
disclosed. Physiologists hold that it is during sleep 
chiefly that we grow ; what may we not hope of such a 
sleep in such a Bosom ? ' " Much more have I had from 
her, and formerly heard from her lips, all in the same 
strain ; and during my poor dear father's last sufferings 

Influence of his Writings. 113 

she sent a note to his room, expressing with fervency 
the blessings that he had conferred upon her and hers, 

and what a happiness and a benefit his residence under 
her roof had been to all his fellow-inmates. The letters 
which I have seen of many of his friends respecting his 
lamented departure have been most ardent ; but these 
testimonies from those who had him daily, hourly, in 
their sight, and the deep love and reverence expressed by 
Mr Green, who knew him so intimately, are especially 
dear to my heart. My dear Henry, too, was deeply 
sensible of his good as well as his great qualities ; it 
was not for his genius only that he reverenced him, and 
it has been one of many blessings attendant on my 
marriage, that by it we were both drawn into closer 
communion with that gifted spirit than could otherwise 
have been the case. There was everything in the cir- 
cumstances of his death to soothe our grief, and valua- 
ble testimonies, (such as I have mentioned, with many, 
many others,) from valued persons have mingled their 
sweetness in the cup. 

We feel happy, too, in the conviction, that his writings 
will be widely influential for good purposes. All his 
views may not be adopted, and the effect of his 
posthumous works must be impaired by their frag- 
mentary condition ; but I think there is reason to 
believe, that what he has left behind him will in- 
troduce a new and more improving mode of thinking, 
and teach men to consider some subjects on principles 
more accordant to reason, and to place them on a surer 

and wider basis than has been done hitherto. It is not 
1 II 

1 1 4 Memoir and Letters of Sara Coleridge. 

to be expected that speculations which demand so 
much effort of mind and such continuous attention, to 
be fully understood, can ever be immediately popular, — 
the written works of master spirits are not perused by 
the bulk of society whose feelings they tincture, and 
whose belief they contribute to form and modify, — it is 
through intervening channels that " sublime truths, and 
the maxims of a pure morality" are diffused among 
persons of various age, station, and capacity, so that 
they become " the hereditary property of poverty and 
childhood, of the workshop and the hovel." Heraud, in 
his brilliant oration on the death of my father, delivered 
at the Russell Institution, observes that religion and 
philosophy were first reconciled — first brought into 
permanent and indissoluble union in the divine works 
of Coleridge ; and I believe the opinion expressed by 
this gentleman, that my father's metaphysical theology 
will prove a benefit to the world, is shared, by many 
persons of refined and searching intellect both in this 
country and in America, where he has some enthusiastic 
admirers ; and it is confidently predicted by numbers 
that this will be more and more felt and acknowledged 

in course of time. My dear L , I will not apologise 

to you for this filial strain ; I write unreservedly to you, 
knowing that you are alive to my father's merits as a 
philosopher and a poet, and believing that you will be 
pleased to find, that he who was misunderstood and 
misrepresented by many, and grossly calumniated by 
some, was and is held in high honour as to moral as 
well as intellectual qualities, by good and intelligent 

Personalities of Mr Dc Quincey. i i 5 

persons. " Hereafter," says a writer in Blackwood, " it 
will be made appear that he who was so admirable a 
poet was also one of the most amiable of men." The 
periodicals have been putting out a great many attempts 
at accounts of his life — meagre enough for the most 
part, and all more or less incorrect as to facts. \\ e 
have been very much hurt with our former friend, Mr 
De Quince\-, the opium eater as he chooses to be styled, 
for publishing so many personal details respecting my 
parents in Tail's Magazine. As Henry says, " the little 
finger of retaliation would bruise his head;" but I 
would not have so good a Christian as my father 
defended by any measure so unchristianlike as retalia- 
tion, nor would I have those belonging to me con- 
descend to bandy personalitu s. This, however, was 
never intended by my spouse ; but, I believe, he has 
some intention of reckoning with the scandal-monger 
for the honour of those near and dear to us. Some of 
our other friends will be as much offended with this 
paper of his as wc are. He has characterized my 
father's genius and peculiar mode of discourse with 
great eloquence and discrimination. He speaks of him 
as possessing " the most spacious intellect, the subtlest 
and most comprehensive" (in his judgment) that ever 
existed amongst men. Whatever may be decided by 
the world in general upon this point, it is one which, 
from learning and ability, he is well qualified to discuss. 
I cannot believe that he had any enmity to my father, 
indeed he often speaks of his kindness of heart ; but 
"the dismal degradation of pecuniary embarrassments," 

1 1 6 Memoir and Letters of Sara Coleridge. 

as he himself expresses it, has induced him to supply 
the depraved craving of the public for personality, which 
his talents would have enabled him in some measure to 

My next letter, my dear L., shall be of a more light- 
some and general nature, but this is dedicated to my 
dear father's memory ; and I could say much more on 
that subject if I had more strength and more paper, and 
were not afraid of wearying even you, who are a reader 
and lover of his works. When Mr Poole of Nether 
Stowey received his copy of the will, in which his name 
was affectionately mentioned, he read it aloud to his 
niece, Mrs Sandford, who expressed her admiration 
with tears in her eyes. One of the last books that my 
dear father ever perused is the " Memoir and Diary of 
Bishop Sandford," which he greatly approved ; some 
notes pencilled on the margin are among the last 
sentences he wrote. 


Attachment of Mr Wordsworth to the Church of England — Argu- 
ments for an Establishment, in Mr Coleridge's " Church and 


To the Same. 

Hampstcad, 1834. — I am always hoping, my dear 

, that the chances of life, happy ones I trust in 

your case, will bring you to reside in the south. Of 
livings — of anything connected with our dear, excellent, 

The English Church. \ i 7 

venerable Church Establishment, I hardlydare tospeak. 
I really shudder, as I turn over the menacing pages of 
the Spectator, and that organ of destructiveness, Taifs 
Magazine. I low well do I remember Mr Wordsworth, 
with one leg upon the stair, delaying his ascent till he 
had uttered, with an emphasis which seemed to proceed 
from the very profoundest recesses of his soul — " I would 
lay down my LIFE for the Church ! " This was the con- 
clusion of a long and eloquent harangue upon that in- 
teresting subject. 

My lather, in his " Constitution of the Church and 
State, according to the Idea of each," has taken the a 
priori view of the matter, and argued for an Establish- 
ment with reasonings which none of the Destructives 
ever attempt to overthrow. Whatever they may pretend, 
it is by n oning but by very different engines, that 

they are effecting their object. 



Letters to her Husband, to Mrs Plummer, Miss Trevenen, Mrs 

Henry M. Jones. 


Early Training — How to instil right Principles of Conduct ; and 
teach a Child the use of his Mind — A Little Boy's notion of 
Parental Discipline. 

To Miss E. Trim \ f.n. Helston, Cornwall. 

Hampstcad, January 1835. — I was highly interested in 
dear Demerit's last letter. I could subscribe to every word 
of his remarks. I have always felt that such statements 
of "naughty" and "good," as he objects to, have no 
effect in averting naughtiness or producing goodness ; 
and I know well that you "cannot beguile a child 
to any useful purpose." But, when you come to practi- 
cal management, a mother must say a thousand things 
to her child which have no other use but this, — they 
gradual ly help to form his notions of right and wrong. 
" O silly boy," we say. " to be afraid in the dark, which 
is as safe as the light!" this will not take away the 
nervous fear which the very darkness produces ; but will 
it not tend to avert mistaken notions, if often repeated, 
and consistently persisted in ? " You ought to give your 
sister your shells — you ought to like that she should be 
pleased." I do not expect that he will act on this im- 
mediately ; but is it not a little preparation, for "Thou 
shalt love thy neighbour as thyself?" As to reading for 
children, something must be set before them which 
they will partly understand, which they will like as 

1 2 2 Memoir and Letters of Sara Coleridge. 

much as they can like anything of the kind, and which 
will not pervert or mislead. It seems to me that with four 
or five years old, more than this cannot be effected, 

and it would be waste of time to attempt it. D 's 

remarks are beautiful on the propriety of early habituat- 
ing children to the yoke of duty — to labour and appli- 
cation. I would never turn all lessons into play ; but 
without losing sight of this principle we may, perhaps, 
turn a child's play, to a certain degree, into lessons. For 
instance, when Herby looks over a book of coloured 
prints, I never attempt to make a task of the thing ; but 
I draw his attention to such points as are of a general 
interest-^the knowledge of which may come usefully 
into play afterwards. This flower is crimson, that is 
pink, that scarlet ; I make him observe this difference, 
and his great amusement is to compare these different 
hues together. " These birds have small wings and large 
bodies — that sort of birds the contrary." In this way I 
think a child may be " beguiled usefully" into the habit of 
observation — into the use of his mind, the particular facts 
are of little consequence, or less consequence ; but they 
are not totally useless ; they form a nucleus of know- 
ledge — they give an interest to other facts ; and this 
little knowledge is gathered at a time when, if that were 
not done, nothing else would be. I am perhaps in some 
danger of attaching even too much importance to intel- 
lectual pursuits and to book learning. I have been 
forced upon such considerations by circumstances, as 
well as led to them by natural taste, and what we dwell 
constantly upon we are too apt to magnify. A dancing- 

" We can't take Troy by force /" i 2 


master thinks that the execution of a waltz, or the solo 
part of a quadrille is the chief point of education. How- 
ever, this is more for my own mind to beware of, 
than likely to lead to practical errors affecting the in- 
terests of my children 

I ierby and Dervy are unanimous in their views of 
ground-rice pudding. I was telling Herby what good 
order his cousin was in, and that he was made to do 
what he was bid by his papa. " Does he force him?" 
asked the urchin. " To be sure, unless he does what is 
right of his own accord." "It's naughty to f>rec him," 
was the reply. " You know Ulysses said, ' we can't take 
Troy by force V" 


Her Contributions to the "Table Talk"— Taking Notes a useful 
Practice — Education : A quick Child may be taught a good 
deal, without any danger of Cramming- -Deaths of Charles 
Lamb and Edward living. 

To .Mrs Plum.mer. 

Hampstead y 1835. — As to my contributions to the 
' Table-Talk," I am ashamed to say that they really 
amount to a mere nothing. Two or three short memor- 
ables I remember recording ; and I often wonder now 
how I could have been so negligent a listener. But there 
were several causes for this. In the first place, my father 
generally discoursed on such a very extensive scale, that 
it would have been an arduous task for me to attempt 
recording what I had heard. Henry could sometimes 

i 24 Memoir and Letters of Sara Coleridge. 

bring him down to narrower topics, but when alone with 
me he was almost always on the star-paved road, 
taking in the whole heavens in his circuit. Another im- 
pediment was this. When I was at Highgate (I think 
of it with grief and shame, for I ought perhaps to have 
had my mind in better order), my heart and thoughts 
were very much oppressed and usurped by a variety of 
agitating personal matters ; I was anxious about my 
brothers, and their prospects — about Henry's health, and 
upon the subject of my engagement generally. The 
individual of this year often longs for the slighted op- 
portunities of years ago ; but we cannot be what experi- 
ence makes us, and live over again the years which have 
been gradually forming our tastes, desires, and capabili- 
ties. This may seem a truism. What I wish to convey 
to you is, that if I could have seen years ago how useless 
taking thought for all those things really was, and how 
permanently valuable every relic of my father's mind 
would be (which I did not then perceive to the extent that 
I do now, though well aware of his great powers), I 
should have tried to be an industrious gleaner, instead 
of loitering about the harvest-field as I did. 

Writing down a discourse, or a part of it, is very use- 
ful also to the mind, and a good test whether you have 
at all comprehended what you heard. 

I must not finish my letter without telling you a little 
about my secondary selves — my children — because they 
are self in a second edition. I am on my guard how, 
and how much I speak of them, for fear of appearing or 
being selfish. Both arc well and brisk at present. 

Little Herbert's Stud; 125 

Herby is reported to be a forward child, and we have 
many admonitions against pushing, cramming, and over- 
refining, which are all very just and sensible, and will, 1 
hope, keep us from straj ing into the wrong path. But I 
cannot think we have been betrayed into it yet ; neither 
would our admonishers think so, if they understood the 
win >le state of the case. The child in question has a show 
of Coleridgian quickness, and bookishness, and livelin 
of mind. He retains what he learns pretty well, and is 
mighty fond of sporting it afterwards, which he does 
with great vehemence and animation. For instance, he 
informs every one he meets that Chimborasco, whatever 
Coley* maysayon the subject, is not so high as Dhawala- 
giri, the highest of the Himalayas ; and that he is certain 
that the wedding of Mr and Mrs Day (domestics at his 
Uncle Patteson's, in Bedford Square), was not nearly so 
grand as that of Peleus and Thetis, on Mount Pelion. 
I [e is at this moment bent upon making bilberry preserve 
at Keswick, and rosefruit-jam from hips that must be 
gathered on Mount Caucas; Hearing him talk in 

this way gives some people a notion that he is crammed. 
I can only say that 1 put no food into his mind which 
is not prepared as carefully for his childish digestion as 
the pap and panada which are recommended for infants ; 
and he certainly never has any more of it at a time than 
he has the fullest appetite for. He hears certain stories 
about Troy and other antiquities over and over again, 
and looks at coloured plates of flowers which are lent 

• His cousin John Coleridge Patteson ; well known to the Church and 
the Country as the " Martyr-Bishop " of the Pacific Islands. — K.C. 

1 26 Memoir and Letters of Sara Coleridge. 

me, and gradually learns some of their names ; and he 
is actually fond of poring over maps, and tracing the 
course of rivers. But what is there in all this {done in 
the way he does it) which can strain the intellect, or over- 
load the mind of a young child ? I assure you nobody 
can be more careful than I am not to err on these points, 
for I am fully aware of the mischief both to body and 
mind which may be caused thereby ; but at the same 
time we all know that there is much in habit, in the 
gradual training both of hand and muscles. My boy 
will have to go through thf mental labour required in a 
public school, and in after-life he will have to gain his 
bread by head-work. I cannot therefore follow the 
advice of those who say, Let hfm run about all day, 
and leave books entirely alone. I feel sure that such a 
plan would pot be for his welfare, either for the present 
or in the long run.. 

I teach him writing too, because I think it a good 
thing to keep a child sitting still, and paying attention 
for a longer time than you are employing his intellect. 
The habit of regularity and submission should be taught 
early. As for the art of writing, it may be learned more 
quickly at a much later age ; but it is a useful instru- 
ment in learning other things ; and the time is not 
altogether thrown away that is spent in teaching an 
urchin of four years and three months to scribble. . . . 

We have been much grieved lately by the death of 
our old friend Mr Charles Lamb, of the India House. 
He was a man of amiable manners, and kind and liberal 
heart, and a rare genius. His writings exhibit a rare 

Ei iu ^ard Irving. 127 

union of pathos and humour, which to me is truly 
delightful. Very interesting short memoirs of him have 
already appeared, and I see new editions of his works 
advertised. So soon after my father, whom, humanly 
speaking, he worshipped! Irving is also gone. Me was 
one whose good and great parts my father saw in a 
strong light, and deeply did he lament the want of due 
balance in his mind, which ended in what may be 
almost called madness. Irving acknowledged that to 
my father, more than to any one, he owed his knowledge 
of " the truth as it is in Jesus." 


" The Accomplishment of Verse" — The delightful Duty of improv- 
ing natural Talents. 

To Miss Emily TREVENEN, Helston, Cornwall. 

Hampstcad, July \2th, 1835. — I rejoice, dear Miss 
Trevenen, to think of your versifying tastes (I am sure 
I have expressed that sentence as, humbly as you your- 
self would dictate !)* As for poetry, in the strict sense 

* The lady who formed so modest an estimate of her own powers, was 
the daughter of the Rev. Thomas Trevenen, rector of Cardinham, in 
Cornwall, and member of a good old Cornish family. She was a woman 
of accomplished mind and truly Christian character, and will long be 
remembered with affectionate respect by those who enjoyed the benefit of 
her influence and example. A small volume of juvenile poetry, entitled 
"Little Derwent's Breakfast," written by her for the amusement and 
instruction of her godson, Derwent Moultrie Coleridge, and published in 
1839, was probably referred to by her correspondent in the present pas- 
Sage.— L.C. 

128 Memoir and Letters of Sara Coleridge. 

of the word, I cannot think that any woman of the pre- 
sent day, whose productions I have seen, has furnished 
the genuine article from her brain-warehouse, except 
Mrs Joanna Baillie. I have read many of Mrs Hemans' 
most mature productions with a due degree of attention. 
I think them interesting, full of poetical feeling, display- 
ing much accomplishment, and a very general acquaint- 
ance with poetry, and some proficiency in the art of 
versifying ; but though poetry is an art, no truly excellent 
poem can be produced by art alone, and to practise the 
whole art there must be high natural endowments. Of 
poetical imagination, it 'appears to me that a very small 
portion is to be found in the works of Mrs Hemans. 
Yet this lady has given delight to thousands by her 
verses; and they must have been the source of great 
delight and improvement to herself. Just as I would 
have any one learn music who has an opportunity, 
though few can be composers, or even performers of 
great merit, I would have any one, who really and 
truly has leisure and ability, make verses. I think it a 
more refining and happy-making occupation than any 
other pastime-accomplishment. 


Newspaper Criticisms on the " Table Talk" — Unreasonable Com- 
plaints Answered, and False Insinuations indignantly Rejected 
-Mr Coleridge not a Partisan, either of Whigs or Tories, 
though he was a Friend of the People and Supporter of the 
National Church — Mr Southey's Opinion of the Book. 
To Mrs Henry M. Jones, Heathlands, Hampstead. 

Doivnshire Place, Hampstead, July 1835. — My dear 

'The Tabic 'Talk. i 29 

Mrs Jones, — We send you " Tabic Talk," thinking that 
1 may like to see a little more of it than the fragments 
given in reviews. Henry desired me to tell you, with 
kind regards, that the Morning Chronicle is wrong in its 
conjecture respecting Lord Londonderry. The ambassa- 
dor alluded to was a " far less able man."* 

The Printing Machine and other critical publications 
find fault with the editor of " Table Talk " for not having 
done what they themselves admit no reporter upon earth 
could do. They all allow that it was impossible to 
represent on paper the ample sweeping current of my 
father's discourse. The)' add, however, that the work 
has preserved much valuable matter, which would other- 
wise have perished ; that it serves in some measure to 
confirm and elucidate my father's written works, and 
ought always to be printed as a companion to the 
" Friend," &c. This was all that Henry expected to do ; 
he dreamt not of placing Coleridge the talker before his 
readers, but merely hoped to preserve some part of his 

One of my father's Whig friends insinuates that if he 
had told his own story, he would have told it more 
Whiggishly. The spirit of party is "father to this 
thought;" it is not true. Henry is a man of honour, 
though, as some may think, an illiberal Tory. I refer 
such objectors to my father's little work on " Church 
and State." Could he, who had such an " idea of the 
constitution of Church and State," think more favourably 
of the Reform Bill, and of the projected alienation of 

• ' Table Talk," p. 2S6.— Note of Aug. 2S, 1833. 
I I 

130 Memoir and Letters of Sara Coleridge. 

Church property, than he appears to have done in 
Henry's publication ? I can truly reassert what has 
often been asserted before, that my father was no party 
man. He cared for no public man or ministry, except 
so far as they furthered what he considered the best 
interests of the country. " He had a vision of his own," 
and he scrupled not to condemn and expose the acting 
Tories if they ran counter to it. He was no lover of 
great and fine people — the pomps and vanities of this 
world were distasteful to him rather than otherwise. He 
had lived in a cottage himself, and he loved cottages, 
and he took a friendly interest in the inhabitants of them. 
He thought himself a true friend to the people in up- 
holding the Church, which he considered the most 
popular institution in the country* If Henry had 
wished to please his own party, through thick and thin, 
he would not have printed many of the opinions recorded 
in " Table Talk." As to my father's having any interest 
in leaning to one side more than another, I really believe 
that figment is discarded by all but those who care not 
whether it be true or no, so that it serves an unworthy 

Lord Brougham made a kind offer to my father, but 
it would not have been for his dignity and consistency 
to have accepted it. 

I am glad that my Uncle Southey is pleased with 
" Table Talk." He says to Henry, " You have dealt 
well with De Quincey and the Benthamite Reviewer," 
i.e., him of the Westminster. 

* See "Table Talk," pp. 159, 322. 

The White Doe of Rylstone. 131 

Of course when my father was in company with 
Whigs, he refrained from all strong expressions respect- 
ing Whig conduct, and rather sought those topics on 
which he could sincerely agree with them, than those on 
which they must have differed. 


Union of Thought and Feeling in the Poetry of Wordsworth — The 
White Doe of Rylstone. 

To Mrs HENRY M. Junks, Heathlands, Hampstead. 

Downshire Place, Hampstead y July 1835. — We are 
expecting a new set of Mr Wordsworth's poems, in- 
cluding the " Excursion ;" and I really think the mur- 
muring river Wharfe, the grey rocks, the dusky trees, 
and verdant sod, the ancient abbey, and the solitary Doe, 
" white as lily of June," will be pleasant subjects of con- 
templation in this hot, languid weather. The poetry of 
Wordsworth will give you at least as much fervour and 
tenderness as you will find in Byron or Hemans ; and 
then, in addition, you will find in it a high philosophy, 
a strengthening and elevating spirit, which must have 
a salutary tendency for the mind. 
. Mr Wordsworth opens to us a world of suffering, and 
no writer of the present day, in my opinion, has dealt 
more largely or more nobly with the deepest pathos 
and the most exquisite sentiment ; but for every sorrow 
he pre.^ents an antidote ; he shews us how man may 

132 Memoir and Letters of Sara Coleridge. 

endure, as well as what he is doomed to suffer. The 
poem of the " White Doe of Rylstone " is meant to 
exhibit the power of faith in upholding the most anguish- 
stricken soul through the severest trials, and the ulti- 
mate triumph of the spirit, even while the frail mortal 
body is giving way. 

" From fair to fairer, day by day 
A more divine and loftier way, 
Even such this, blessed pilgrim trod, 
By sorrow lifted towards her God, 
Uplifted to the purest sky 
Of undisturbed mortality." 

— ■ White Doe, Canto vii. 

The first and last cantos are much superior in point 
of imaginative power to the others upon the whole ; but 
the speech of Francis to his sister in the second is beau- 
ful. I remember that it was greatly admired by dear 


" Hope nothing, if I thus may speak 
To thee, a woman, and thence weak, 
Hope nothing, I repeat, for we 
Are doomed to perish utterly. 

Forbear all wishes, all debate, 

All prayers for this cause, or for that, 

• • • • 

Espouse thy fate at once, and cleave 
To fortitude without reprieve." 

— Canto ii. 

The address of the father to Francis in the fifth canto 
is a favourite of mine. 

Charles Lamb. 133 

" Might this our enterprise'* have sped, 
Change wide and deep the land had seen, 
A renovation from the dead, 
A spring-tide of immortal green. 
The darksome altars would have blazed 
Like stars when clouds are rolled away ; 

Ivation to all eyes that gazed, 
Once more the Rood had been upraised 
To spread its arms, and stand for aye!" 

— Canto v. 


Charles Lamb, his Shyness and Tenderness — A lifelong 


To Mrs H. M. Jones, Heathlands, Hampstead. 

1 [ampstcad, 1835. — I agree to your criticism on Lamb, 
and sympathise most entirely in your preference of field, 
and grove, and rivulet, to square, garden, street, and 
gutter. I always feel so particularly ///secure in a street. 
Nevertheless I can quite understand Lamb's feeling. 
A man is more especially alone, very often, in a crowd, 
here can an individual be so isolated, so indepen- 
dent as in London. Nowhere else can he see so much 
and be himself so little observed. This I think is the 
"sweet security of streets ""f" which the eccentric old 

* The "enterprise" referred to was the " Rising of the North," in the 
12th year of Elizabeth, 1569, under the Earls of Northumberland and 
Westmoreland, " to restore the ancient religion." — E. C. 

t I care m>t to be carried with the tide that smoothly bears human life to 

eternity; and reluct at the inevitable course of destiny. I am in love with 

thi- green earth, the face of town and country, the unspeakable rural soli- 

^. and the sweet security of streets. 1 would set up my tabernacle 

here. — Lamb" s Essays. New War's Lie. — E. C. 

134 Memoir and Letters of Sara Coleridge. 

bachelor delighted in. And then he had been educated 
at Christ's Hospital, all his boyish recreations, when 
life was new and lifesome, had passed in streets, and 
we all know that the circumstances of our childhood 
give the prevailing hue to our involuntary tastes and 
feelings for the rest of our lives. I cannot picture to 
myself a Paradise without lakes and mountains. Our 
poor friend was much affected by my father's death,* 
and had a fanciful presentiment that he should not 
remain long behind. He must have remembered some 
interesting remarks -J* connected with this subject in an 
old preface of my father's, the preface to a volume con- 
taining united poems of Coleridge and Lamb. 

" Mr Lamb's visit to Highgate, shortly after my grandfather's death, is 
thus described by Judge Talfourd : — "There he asked leave to see the 
nurse who had attended upon Coleridge ; and being struck and affected 
by the feeling she manifested towards his friend, insisted on her receiving 
five guineas from him — a gratuity which seemed almost incomprehensible 
to the poor woman, but which Lamb could not help giving as an imme- 
diate expression of his own gratitude. From her he learned the effort by 
which Coleridge had suppressed the expression of his sufferings, and the 
discovery affected him even more than the news of his death. He would 
startle his friends sometimes by suddenly exclaiming ' Coleridge is dead,' 
and then pass on to common themes, having obtained the momentary 
relief of oppressed spirits." — Letters of Charles Lamb, vol. ii., p. 304. — 
E. C. 

t The reference is probably to the Latin motto printed on the title-page 
of the second edition of " Poems by Coleridge, Lamb, and Lloyd," which 
appeared in May 1797 : — Duplex nobis vinculum, et amicitice, junctarumque 
Camanarumj quod utinam neque mors solvat ; nequc temporis longinquitas. 
Charles Lamb died on the 27th of December 1S34, five months and two 
days after the friend whom he loved so well. — E. C. 

Wolfe S Remains. 135 


Writings of Charles Wolfe in Prose and Verse* Ili^ defence of 
try against the attacks of the Utilitarians Wolfe with the 
Methodists — Wesley's Interview with two 1 razj Enthusiasts — 
Political Questions from a Conservative point of view 1 he 
ilarization of Church Property-- Projected Disestablish- 
ment of the Church in Ireland certain to lead to the same 
Measure in England — A Sisterly Wish on behalf of the Sister 

To Mrs H. M. JONES, Heathlands. Hampstead. 

Downshire Place, Hampstead, 1835. — My dear Mrs 
Jones — The " Remains of C. Wolfe,"' kindly lent by Dr 
Park, I return with many thanks. As to the ode on 
Sir John Moore's Burial, and the Gra-ma-chree verses,-f* 
which suit the old melody to perfection, I have them 
almost by heart. The latter 1 have heard sung by 
Edith Southey in her tasteful way, and read aloud by 
Mr Wordsworth with his deep solemn voice, and ex- 
quisite intonation. The observations on poetry, though 
expressed with enthusiasm, are, in the opinion of a poet's 

"Collected and published in 1825 by Archdeacon Russell. The Reve- 
rend Charles Wolfe (of the same family with General Wolfe) was born at 
Dublin in 1 79 1, and died at Cork, in his thirty-second year, of consump- 
tion. He was for three years curate of Donoughmore, in the Dioct 
Armagh, where he won the love and respect of his parishioners by his 
devotion to his professional duties, which he combined with literary 
pursuits. He is best known to posterity by his beautiful poem on the 
Burial of Sir John Moore, who fell at the Battle of Corunna, January 
26th, 1809.— E. C. 

t The popular song beginning — 

" Had I a heart for falsehood framed, 
I ne'er could injure you." — E. C. 

136 Memoir and Letters of Sara Coleridge. 

daughter, absolutely true. When people say of what 
use is poetry, what need is there for works of imagina- 
tion ? " Oh, argue not the need" I am ready to ex- 
claim ; but I think if the cause zuere argued, it might be 
plainly proved that poetry and the sister arts are of use 
in more ways than one. It is the fashion now to cry up 
science at the expense of fine literature, on the ground 
that the former is more useful to mankind. The mean- 
ing of the term utility must be agreed on before the 
argument can proceed, but I think unless a very narrow 
and corporeal definition is insisted on, both will be 
admitted highly useful in different, and also in some 
similar ways, and neither can operate so beneficially 
apart, as when they play into each other's hands. For 
poetry is truth as well as science, and truth of a most 
ennobling, and, therefore, improving kind. Your mark 
is also in another part of the memoir, which interested 
me no less ; I mean Wolfe's explanations with the 
Methodists. I have lately been employed in tran- 
scribing my father's notes on Southey's Life of Wesley. 
Many of them relate to sanctification, and the new 
birth ; to faith and works ; to free grace ; free-will and 
election ; subjects on which there have been long and 
bitter disputations, — as my father thinks, because the 
disputants have not gone deep enough, and started 
from the very beginning. I could not help laughing in 
the midst of all this grave reasoning, at my uncle's 
story of " two ignorant dreamers," who, thinking that 
Wesley's new birth had not taken place in the right 
way, informed him from the Lord, that he must be 

Reform and Revolution, I 3 7 

"born'd again," and vowed that they would stay in his 

house till it was done. He showed them into the 
Society Room, where they remained without meat, 
drink, and firing, till they were very glad to go away and 
mind their own business.* 

Did I almost make thee a Tory? Truly thou hast 
almost made me ashamed to call myself one ; but I 
believe if you and I had converted each other, and 
changed sides as to politics, our respective wiser-halves 
dd soon waltz us back again to our former creeds. 
I rest content, however, with having elicited from you 
a decided condemnation of O'Connell and such reformers 
as he ; and you will rest content with my assuring you 
that the poverty of curates and incumbents of small 
livings, a grievance not unknown in the circle of my 
nearest and very dear friends, and the troubles of Ire- 
land, are evils which I lament, and should be thankful 
see reformed. How far some part of them are 
tble of a remedy at present, without bringing on 
greater calamities than themselves, and what are the 
best and safest measures which can be employed for 
their removal or mitigation, can be the only points of 
controversy, I should think, between disinterested liberal 
Conservatives and truly religious sane-minded Whig 
or Radical Reformers. The reason, I believe, why the 
former distrust the policy of Lord Brougham, is because 
they think that, however unintentionally on his part, it 
would betray us finally into the hands of O'Connell and 
his band, as well as of English Church Destroyers and 
" S ith ;■ '■■ Life of Wesley, vol. ii, p. 273.— E.C. 

138 Memoir and Letters of Sara Coleridge. 

Revolutionists. I have been reading the " Edinburgh 
Review," and am therefore not entirely unacquainted 
with the Liberal line of argument, and many are the 
long discussions which I have listened to on these 
questions. As to the English Church, surely it is ap- 
parent that there is a deficiency of funds for the spiritual 
wants of the people, — to provide for them fully at least. 
If she enjoyed all the proierty originally intended for 
her use, this would not be the case. As to the griev- 
ances of those who have to help to support a Church to 
which they do not belong, I believe it is argued that the 
majority of the United Kingdom are Protestants, and 
that a Church Establishment cannot subsist long if the 
nation at large does not contribute to its maintenance. 
This, of course, is only an argument to those who admit 
the beneficial effects of an Establishment, and have no 
wish to see Church and State disunited. The " Edin- 
burgh " says, No, no ; but it has yet failed to convince 
the Conservatives that depriving the Irish Church of its 
property would not be the first step to the ruin of the 
Establishment both in England and Ireland. Put in, 
they say, the narrow end of the wedge, and there is a 
compact indefatigable band of conspirators, who will 
drive it right onwards till they have brought the fabric 
to the ground, and poor Mother Church to voluntary 
contributions, which many of her children consider a 
beggarly condition. " Look at America " is the cry of 
both parties. " We do look at her," the Conservatives 
make answer, " and we cannot like her as to her religious 
condition ; " and the " Quarterly " endeavours to prove 

. 7 fanagement of Ck ilch en. 139 

that even were it the best in the world for her, it would 
not do equally well in England. But let me no longer 
betray my own cause by pleading it after my feminine 
fashion, nor misrepresent the arguments on either side 
by attempting to repeat them. When I read or hear of 
the mutual injuries of England and Ireland, I fancy it 
would have been a blessed thing had the sea never 
flowed between the two countries. Had they been all 
in one, surely there would have been more unity between 
them of interests and of feelings. But let us hope that 
days of peace and general enlightenment will arrive 
by ways past man's finding out. I am sure it is the 
duty of the Conservatives to wish that their opponents' 
cause may be the just one, for in all human probability 
it will be successful. — Believe me, my dear Mrs Jones, 
most truly yours, Sara Colerid<j . 


Severity not the right mode of Treatment for an Obstinate Temper, 
in spite of its apparent Success — Parental Discipline has a 
higher Aim, and avails itself of higher Influences. 

To her Husband. 

Hampsteady October 1835. — Some people go on day 

after day and month after month pursuing a method, 
which day after day and month after month they find 
invariably to fail, without once saying to themselves, 
" Since this plan works so ill, is it, or is it not, the least 
bad that can be imagined?" They live from hand to 

140 Memoir and Letters of Sti7'a Coleridge. 

mouth, as it were, impelled by feeling to a regular routine 
which they never correct by principle. Mr , self- 
flattering man, says he has but one bout with all his chil- 
dren — venit, vidct, vincit — and yet was, up to the 

last time I had the opportunity of observing her, a most 
obstinate little animal. My aim is something far beyond 
extorting obedience in particular instances. Unless the 
wayward will is corrected, what care I for the act ; 
unless the fount is purified, what care I for an artificial 
cleansing of the draught which falls to my portion this 
day or the next ? If I thought that to force compliance 
by terror would induce a salutary habit, by which the 
heart might be bettered, it might be my duty to take 
this painful course. But I do not think so. I believe 
the experiment to be worse than dangerous ; for the 
improvement of our children's moral nature I put my 
trust in no methods of discipline ; these may answer 
well for a warring prince or general who has a particular 
external object to gain, and cares not for his instruments, 
except as instruments. I, too, have a particular object 
to gain, that our children should acquire a certain por- 
tion of book-learning ; but my whole aim is their general 
welfare, as it must be that of every truly parental heart, 
the growth of their souls in goodness and holiness ; to 
promote which I put my faith in no ways and means 
which I have power over, but the influence of good 
example, the constant inculcation of none but sound 
principles, and the opportunities which we can afford our 
children of gaining worldly experience and religious 
knowledge and impressions. For they must be wise as 

Spiders. 1 4 1 

serpents t and innocent as doves. Of course T do not mean 
to undervalue the advantage ^C sensible artificial man- 
ment, I would but place it in a fair light, and show 
that it is no enchanter's wand, but more analogous to a 
doctor's drugs and diet, which may do good, but which 
are quite inefficacious in man}- cases, and can effect 
nothing unless other operatives combine to aid the work. 
Indeed I do not strictly put my faith in anything but 
the power of grace in the heart. What I mean is, that 
I hope more from favourable influences of this kind I 
have mentioned than from any mechanical routine ; and 
I really think that "you shall be beaten unless you do it, 
or you shall be mortified and annoyed till you look and 
speak humbly," is a sort of external force which does not 
touch the heart. 


Spiders — Their Webs and Ways. 

To the Same. 

This day, 5th of October, I saw a large primrose- 
coloured butterfly, which looked the very emblem of 
April or May. Also I examined three or four spiders, 
and saw quite plainly the spinnerets in their tails, and 
once I clearly perceived the thread issuing from the 
ap'-rtures. The thread of a spider's net is composed of 
such a multitude of threadlets that it gives one a good 
notion of the infinite divisibility of matter. A spider, 

142 Memoir and Letters of Sara Coleridge. 

when examined, feigns death, and lies back with all his 
arms and legs closely pinioned to his sides, so that he 
shrinks up into as small a space as possible. In this 
condition he is a good symbol of some wretched slave, 
stupified and collapsed into stillness in the presence of a 
mighty one. I have often marvelled at the strength of 
a spider's web, which offers fir more resistance to my 
finger, as I push and bend it, than a net made of silken 
threads of the same apparent substance would do. This 
firmness is procured by the multiplicity of threadlets of 
which every thread is composed, which circumstance also 
hastens the drying of the fluid gum, so great a surface 
being exposed to the air. While we compare natural 
objects or operations with artificial ones, we are so taken 
up with the likeness that we forget the difference. There 
is no other thing in art or nature similar to the spinning 
of spiders. Evelyn would watch spiders for five hours 



Unpractical Suggestions of a Writer in the Athentzum on the sub- 
ject of Female Education — Boarding School life not unhealthy 
for Girls under ordinary Circumstances — Alleged Physical 
Superiority of Savage over Civilised Races not founded on 
Fact; nor much worth regretting if it were. 

To the Same. 

Hampstcad, October 1835. — The AtJienceiim is fond of 
bringing out great mouthing articles against modern 
female education ; but the huge mountain of denuncia- 

Civilization and Savagery. 143 

tion brings forth but a mouse of instruction in the better 
way. The weakliness and imperfect forms ol modern 
ladies arc all laid to ignorance and want of sense in 
their governors, pastors, and masters. This seems to 
me by far too unqualified a charge. It may be true 
that the squaw and the copper-coloured woman of the 
western woods has a constitution that will bear wind and 
weather, and a pair of shoulder-blades that are as even 
as a pair of dice. It may be that the habits of civilised 
life, snug houses, warm, soft beds, abundant meals, and 
the habit of sitting on a chair while we make our com- 
plicated clothes, write numerous letters, read interesting 
books, converse with our friends, wait during compound 
meals, attend divine service, and «Vunder the clergyman, 
may be unfavourable to a certain sort of bodily vigour; 
but our women live as long as they used to do, they go 
through as uninterrupted a routine of duty, pleasure, and 
occupation (in one shape or another) as the female 
savages do ; the iclt, man is as much put into action 

among the former as the latter; and if it be true, which 
the AthencBum writer himself avers, that mechanical 
causes have little to do with spinal curvature, why are 
the employments of young girls at school so vehemently 
denounced ? As to the harp or the tambour-frame, not 
one girl in thirty or forty in the middle classes is con- 
fined by those exercises, or could be' injured by them. 
When that old argument of savages is brought forward, 
it always seems to be forgotten that none but the 
strongest children ever pass the age of infancy in those 
communities. Man)' are put to death, and no weakly 

144 Memoir and Letters of Sara Coleridge, 

child survives the hardships of that mode of life. We, 
by medical and metrical art, preserve hundreds of deli- 
cate infants, who grow up to be delicate men and women, 
and have still more delicate children. Schoolmistresses 
are abused for the mode in which they lead out their 
girls to take exercise ; but let the writer take the poor 
women's place, and let us se^ how he would manage. 
There must be order, regularity, in a school as well 
as in an army. How are twenty girls to be kept out of 
mischief, and under the eye of the mistress, if they are 
to straggle about as they like ? The shepherd has 
barking dogs to help him to keep his flock in order. 
Like Madame de Genlis, we may sit down and imagine 
a delightful scheme of education, all the circumstances 
being made on purpose by the writer's imagination ; but 
in actual life we must do the best we can under such 
circumstances as we happen to light upon. It is only 
to a limited extent indeed that we can manufacture 
them to suit us. The Athenceum writer is like a clumsy 
fencer, he knows that something is to be hit, but he hits 
far too hard, and hits only half of the right place. He 
accuses imperfect civilisation of all our evils and suffer- 
ings. Whether civilisation can ever be so perfect as to 
preserve the good things we now enjoy, and divest them 
of their bad accompaniments, is a problem which I 
cannot solve ; but of this I feel quite sure — namely, that 
civilisation and cultivation such as we have, are well 
worth the price we pay for them. 

mversation and Manners. 145 


Puns— Affectation. 
1 ■ the Same. 

tober 1835. — I can't say ] should care to know Mr 

front} >>ur account. Puns arc often unacceptable 

to the feelings ; they come like a spoonful of ice-cream 
in the midst of a comfortable smoking hot steak, or as a 
peppery morsel when your palate was in expectation ol 
a mild pudding. The place for life was a good thing, 
but the worst of a regular punster is that he picks up so 
main- poor jokes, which an}- one equally on the look-out 
might have hit upon, merely because they lie in his way, 
while other people are content to say things, worth 
hearing in themselves, but which there is no cleverness 
in saying. I low much more agreeable is many a piece of 
news, a kind remark, a civil inquiry, than smart sentences 

which one is not in the humour of listening to 

I believe, G. — is what is commonly called affected, but 
the affectation in question is perfectly natural to the 
individual, though not natural to the occasion — i.e., not 
what would be natural to most people on such an occa- 
sion. It is engendered by vanity ; the desire to make 
an impression leads a wain man to think that all he has 
to bring forward is fitted to make an impression ; con- 
sequently a disproportioncd manner is produced, the 
manner is too big for the matter, too earnest, too for- 
tuitous, or too exquisite for the occasion, according to 
the view which other people take of the occasi< n. 
Shrewd people seldom fall into these mistakes ; shrewd- 
ness prunes vanity, but docs not eradicate it. 
1 K 



Letters to her Husband, her Mother, Mrs H. M. Jones, Miss 
Trevenen, Miss Arabella Brooke. 


" Miscellaneous Plays," by Mrs Joanna Baillie. 

Hampsteady 1836. — Have you seen Mrs J. Baillie's 
twelve new dramas ? * One critique says they have the 
same vigour of thought and felicity of language as her 
earlier productions, but that they are not so sustained 
nor so well united, nor have the same propriety of action 
and character. The passion of hatred is powerfully ex- 
hibited in the Comed) r of The Election. Successful and 
admirable as Mrs Baillie's dramas are, I cannot think it 
a good plan to announce one particular passion in the 
title-page of a play ; it leads you to expect to find the 
labouring author, rather than a picture of life itself trans- 
mitted through the author's mind and hand in the fol- 
lowing pages. 

* Published in three volumes, in 1836, nearly forty years after the ap- 
pearand of the first volume of "Plays on the Passions." It was during 
our residence at Hampstead that my mother became acquainted with the 
. whose genius she highly admired, and whose personal ap- 
pearance and manners are pleasingly described in .several passages of he 
-pondence. Mrs Baillie died at Hampstead in February 1S51. — 
1. C. 

150 Memoir and Letters of Sara Coleridge. 


A perfect Reticule — Bridgewater Treatise by Dr Roget — Natural 
History less dependent on other Sciences than Astronomy — 
or Comparative Anatomy ; Want of Reality in the Poetry 
of Mrs Hemans — Excess of this Quality in Crabbe. 

To Mrs H. M Jones,* Heathlands, Hampstead. 

Downshire Place, Hampstead, 1836. — My dear Mrs 
Jones, — A mock-heroical note-writer might commence a 
billet on the present occasion, thus : — " O for the glowing 
language of a Hemans, or the lively fancy of an L.E.L., 
that I might return fitting acknowledgments for my kind 
neighbour's various and refined courtesies ! " In sober 
earnest though, I do think you ought not to be thanked in a 
common, dry, cool manner for your friendliness, and I feel 
doubly obliged and flattered by your spending time upon 
me as well as other things. As to the reticule, it is age/i- 
tlewomaris bag. — I could say nothing better of it, were I to 
study for a fortnight ; and when I consider how difficult 
it is to produce a perfectly lady-like reticule, how many 
would-be genteel people carry reticules, and infect every 
reticule fashion they adopt with an air of vulgarity or 
shabby gentility, how many laboriously-wrought reti- 
cules I have seen in the course of my life, none of which 
came up to my beau-ideal of a bag, how many negative 

* Our kind friend and neighbour, whose amiable attentions are here 
gratefully, though playfully acknowledged, has been for some years a resi- 
dent in her native country of Ireland ; where I hope she will read these 
memorials of the happy past, with feelings in which pleasure may predo- 
minate over regret. — E. C. 

Poetry of Mrs Hemans. i 5 1 

as well as positive qualities a perfect bag ought to have, 
1 really think your success in this line is a triumph of 
art and tastefulness ; you have completely embodied all 
my airy reticulums imaginations, and have combined 
satin and velvet into a shape fit to be patronised by an 
exclusive. This ma)- perhaps truly be called running on 
about a reticule, but it will at least show you, dear Mrs 
hat your attentions give the pleasure you design ; 
neither you nor I would be in raptures with a bag, or 
any other elegance, which was bought in a shop, and in 
way connected with genial feeling. 

If I may not saunter over "Roget " in my usual manner, 
will you be kind enough to bid me hasten my perusal. 
I am pleased and I hope instructed with what I have 
read. l)r R< -get, in this volume * more especially, treats 
of man)- matters which I am often wishing to know 
about. Comparative anatomy, though highly interesting, 
makes one often feel the want of the knowledge <>f 
mechanics ; and one cannot proceed far in astronomy 
without mathematics. But there arc certain portions of 
physiology which I fancy may be understood sufficiently 
for a great degree of pleasure and profit, without the aid 
of other scien* 

I return the " Forest Sanctuary," &c. T think Lord 
Byron's remark on Mrs Hemans was very just ; he 
she was a poet, but too " stiltified and apostrophical ; " 
this you may remember in Moore's Life of Lord B. 
But she was a very extraordinary woman, and had a 

On Animal and Vt potable Physiology : one of the Bridgewater 
Tr< ■ B34. — E. C. 

152 Memoir and Letters of Sara Coleridge. 

wonderful command of language. Yet various as her 
subjects are I still feel, as I did after reading the other 
volume of her poems which you lent me, that there is a 
sameness in her productions upon the whole ; the spirit 
and tone of feeling are almost invariably the same ; she 
keeps one so long in a sublii ;ie region of thin ether that 
one craves to come down and breathe the common air, 
impregnated with odours that put one in mind of real 
life. People say there is too much real life in Crabbe, 
and certainly he did not idealise enough ; but in spite of 
this defect he is a great and permanent favourite with 
me. Mrs Hemans' " Hebrew Mother" struck mama from 
its great likeness to my Uncle Southey's style of poetry; 
I thought it very beautiful. "Evening prayer at a Girls' 
School " is another of my favourites. 

Believe me, my dear Mrs Jones, your truly obliged 
friend, Sara Coleridge. 


Etymology of Plat and Plait — The Plaits (or Plats) of a Lady's 
Hair, and the Plaits of her Gown, originally the same Word, 
though different in Meaning and Pronunciation* — A Social 

To Mrs H. M. JONES. 

Hampstcad, 1836. — My dear Mrs Jones — My diction- 
aries are highly flattered by the appeal made to them 

I he former being called plat, and the latter pleat. Might not the old 
English word pleach have been included among the derivatives of irXe/iw ? 

Etymologies. 1 5 3 

fromtheCourt in John Street, and after some consultations 
toerether erive it as their unanimous opinion that plat 
and plait have precisely the same pedigree — Gr., x\sxu; 
Latin, plecto and plico; French, plisser and plier ; Ita- 
Wanjriegare; andployen, Dutch. 

They have also come to the conclusion that to fold, 
weave, braid, twist, twine, plait, plat, and platt, are to a 
certain degree synonymous, though in making minor 
distinctions we use them in slightly different senses ; 
plaiting is a sort of weaving, and weaving is a sort of 
infolding. The word platted is used in Scripture, as all 
must recollect; "they platted a crown of thorns ;" they 
wove a garland. It was a remark of my dear father's,* 
that we cannot ascertain the precise meaning of words 
by searching for their roots only; words that originally 
were the same become appropriated to separate uses, 
as there is a greater demand Tor language, and the know- 
ledge and refinement of the speakers of the language 
increase. To plait now, with milliners and clear-starchers, 
means a particular way of folding muslin, and to plat 
with smart young ladies signifies nothing in the world 
but twisting their gloss)- tresses in a neat and elegant 
manner ; and yet plat and plait both come origin- 
ally from plecto and from plico, and both plecto and 

The "pleached bower " in which Beatrice awaited her friends, in " Much 
Ado about Nothing," was one formed of the plaited or interwoven branches 
of the honeysuckle, which 

" ripened by the sun, 
Forbid the sun to enter." — E. C. 
"Coleridge's Notes on English Divines," vol. ii., p. 259. — 1 I 

154 Memoir and Letters of Sara Coleridge. 

plico, according to my aforesaid informants, are either 
derived from or cognate with the Greek word pleko, 
which must excuse my writing it in Roman character. . . 
You have a suggestive Byronic imagination, or you 
could never have fancied that your visit injured me ; 
this is turning a beam into a cloud, and a lively mind like 
yours ought to employ itself in doing the reverse. 


" Clever" People not always thinking People — Serious Reflections 
suggested by the receipt of Taylor's "Holy Living and Dying," 
as a Present from a Friend — Sympathy more to be prized than 
Admiration — " The Boy and the Birds," and the " Story 
without an End" A Critic's Foible. 

To Miss Emily Trevenen. 

Hampstcad, August 1836. — Dear Miss B ! Henry 

and I quite agree on her character ; she is one of the 
thinking class, which is so congenial to our tastes and 
feelings. A merely clever person, without depth of sensi- 
bility or reflection, I own is not congenial to me — I 
mean abstractedly considered. I might know a person 
in actual life to whom that description applied, whom 
yet I might love and like from early habit, or peculiar 
circumstances, or the predominance of other attractive 

I must thank you, dearest friend, for the' "Holy 
Living and Dying ;" it would have pleased you to see 
how charmed and surprised I was on opening the bundle 
and finding what it contained. " Bibles laid open, 

" The Story without an End" 155 

millions of surprises,"* George Herbert says, arc too 
often of little avail to sanctify the worldly spirit. 
There arc two awful thoughts which often beset my 
mind, and must, I think, present themselves to all who 
dwell on religious considerations. The first is, the want 
of opportunity to become spiritually minded in such a 
large portion of the humbler classes, as well as of savage 
tribes and nations not Christianised : the other (its 
counterpart) what endless opportunities are either wasted 
or not turned to a sufficiently good account by persons 
in our line of life, their very commonness almost taking 
from their efficacy. 

What you say of your sojourn near us is most grati- 
fying, and expressed in your own refined, feminine, yet 
thoughtful way. It finds an echo in all our hearts, 
otherwise it would not be gratifying ; for I hope we are 
passed tho-e years of vanity when one desires to be 
considered exciting, even when the excitement is not 

Both the children enjoy " The Boy and the Birds.' j 
As to the " Story without an End,"* I admire it, but think 
it quite unfit for juvenile readers. None but mature 
minds, well versed in the artificialities of sentimental 
literature, can understand the inner meanings of it ; and 
I do not think it has that body of visual imagery and 
adventure which renders many a tale and allegory de- 
lightful to those who cannot follow the author's main 


• From a Sonnet entitled " Sin," in Herbert's "Temple."— E. C. 

t By Mar>- Hewitt— E.G. 

X Translated by Mrs Austin from the German of Carove. — E.C. 

156 Memoir and Letters of Sara Coleridge. 

drift. Bees, and flies, and leaves, and flowers are talked 
about, but not described, so as to give the child any clearer 
notion of them and their properties than he originally- 
had, and all that is ascribed to them, all the sentiments 
put into their mouths, as one may say, are such as can 
breed naught but confusion ii the juvenile brain. " That 
child is always asleep, or else dreaming," I overheard 
Herby say to himself, as he looked at the picture with 
an air of contempt. . . . 

O reviews ! if you yourselves were reviewed, how you 
might be cut up and exposed. A common fault of 
reviewers, and one which makes them desert good sense, 
is that they are so desirous to take a spick-and-span 
new view of any debated point. They smell down two 
roads, and if both have been trodden before, they rush 
at once down the third, though it may lead to nothing, 
like a blind alley. So it is with the Edinburgh Reviewer ; 
he perks up his nose, and tries to say some third thing, 
which never has been said before, and which is the worst 
thing of the three. 


A Visit to Devonshire — Advantage of frequent Intercourse among 
Relations — Forebodings of Illness, too soon realised — Maternal 
Cares and Interests — Interruption of her Journey homeward. 

To Miss E. Trevenen, Helston. 

Manor House* Ottery St. Mary, Devon, October 8, 

* The residence of Francis George Coleridge, Esq., one of my father's 
elder brothers. — E.C. 

Health Prospects. r 5 7 

[836. — Married relations should not live in the same 
house with each other, perhaps not next door ; but it is 
a mutual disadvantage to be so far from each other that 
unless health and purse are in the most flourishing state, 
they must pass years without the opportunity of inter- 
course. Even relations that often disagree, if there be 
any respect and affection at bottom, care more for one 
another, and love one another's society better, than 
those who seldom meet. 

Our old acquaintance Dr Calvert, gave a cheer- 
ful account of Greta Hall, where all were well and 
in very fair spirits. Aunt Lovell seemed quite in 
good health, and tripped up to shake hands like a 
young girl. Such are the turns and changes of 
life. My turn of strength will perhaps come ; but at 
present, the prospect of my health is like the prospect 
of lake and mountain at Keswick, when the whole 
being invoked in mist, one might as well be in a 
flat unwatercd country, for all the advantage one has of 
scenery. Could I be sure that health and strength 

were indeed behind the cloud ! Little H tells me 

that I " have come here for nothing," because I have 
only once been as far as the flower garden, and that I 
am a "poor dull woman," who can have no enjoyment. 
But the pretty little maid is out there, I trust. It is 
true I have not enlarged my notions of the picturesque, 
nor much improved my acquaintance with Devonshire, 
but I have met several of my relations in a sociable 
way, gleaned a little out of Frank's library, and become 
better acquainted with the children than some would 

158 Memoir and Letters of Sara Coleridge. 

have been in three years. Herby and Edy have 
derived much benefit from this visit, I trust, and had 
their little minds ventilated by fresh scenes, people, and 
goings-on. Herbert's nervous temperament and general 
delicacy of frame have been placed in a clearer light to me 
by the change than ever, and 'I trust I shall use this know- 
ledge aright. I listen to the advice and opinions of all 
experienced persons, — let my notion of their discernment 
be great or small. Every kind and degree of experience 
on the management of young people obtains a fair hear- 
ing from me ; but I am now fully convinced how entirely 
it is the duty of a mother to act resolutely on her own 
judgment, when she has once formed it with all due 
deliberation, and with as much clear-sightedness as she has 
it in her power to exert. I would give a good deal if Her- 
bert could have little A for his constant companion; 

these two are so nearly matched in age that they run 
well together, and in temper are so well suited to each 
other, and so fitted to do one another good, that I 
regret the little opportunity they will have of playing 

and studying side by side. A is a sweet boy ; there 

is an innocent solemnity and a sprightly gravity about 
him which are charming, and contrast well with Her- 
bert's quick, eager, mercurial temperament. Herby is 
excessively fond of him. It is pretty to see them play 
dominoes together, chattering all the time with a light- 
hearted earnestness and importance, the pomposity and 
intensity of their words contrasting prettily with the 
easiness of their looks and tones ; — or to hear them read 
the Bible, verse about, with Henry ; A serious and 

Illness at Ilchester. 159 

steady, pronouncing his words distinctly, and proceed- 
ing smoothly to the end of the verse; Herbert, poor 
fellow, more interrupted by his occasionally impeded 
utterance, and by the thoughts which the subject sug- 
gests. He does not skim the surface, but stops con- 
tinually to look under the ice 

Ilchester, October 21. — Dear Miss T. — You will all be 
grieved to find that I am stopped on my journey home 
by nervous illness, and am here in bed under the doctor's 
care. All circumstances are favourable. I cannot now 
write particulars. God bless you and your true 

S. C. 

" i.lessed are they that mourn : for they shall be comforted." 

N< >te. — This affecting letter, which breathes the very spirit of Christian 
[nation, was occasioned by an earn re to suggest topics of con- 

solation to my pour Grandmother, who was alone at home when she 
received the news of her daughter's illness, and was thrown by it into a 
state of the greatest anxiety and trouble. During this period of suffering 
and weakness, my mother was, however, still able to read, and reflect on 
what she read, as appears from the following passages of her correspond- 
ence. The books which chiefly occupied her attention, while she was thus 
detained at Ilchester, seem to have been her father's Literary Remains ; 
the writings of Mrs Ilemans, a lady whose poetical talent gave her a good 
deal of pleasure, though she was apt to note its deficiencies ; and several 
devotional works by Abbott, an author of the Evangelical School, much 
esteemed by serious persons of the last generation. — E.C. 

To her Mother. 

Castle-Inn, Ilchester, October 24, 1836. — Dear Mother 

160 Memoir and Letters of Sara Coleridge. 

— I entreat you to pray for cheerfulness and fortitude to 
the Giver of all good. Be sure that the effort to pray 
will be useful, however distracted your poor thoughts 
may be. Let us recollect that were we enjoying all that 
our worldly hearts desire, how rapidly does J:ime move 
on ; how soon shall we arrive at the end of our earthly 
course — then what will worldly good things avail us? 
But these days of trial are more available for securing a 
happy seat in the eternal kingdom, than those which 
our unsanctified hearts might deem more blessed. The 
merciful Saviour has given us a check in the midst of our 
heedless career, and bids us consider, ere it be too late, 
whither are we hastening, lest we think only of the roses 
on the wayside, and forget the glorious city in the 
clouds, which, would we raise our eyes, we might see 
right before us. Dearest mother, be not grieved for this 
visitation. When you go to heaven before me, if you 
leave your poor daughter with a more serious, chastened 
heart (though still a weak and sin-inclined one) you leave 
her in far better case than if her frame were as free from 
uneasy weakness as the best in the land. Look not on 
this as a poor consolation, only taken up because no 
better can be had. These which I have alluded to are 
substantial truths, which will abide to my weal or woe, 
when all this busy and bustling world for me exists no 
longer. I thought my business here was to teach my 
darling boy ; to be respected, admired, beloved ; my 
head said otherwise, but my heart felt thus. Now I 
feel, more feelingly, that my business here is to make 
my soul fit for eternity, and my earthly tasks are but 

Poetic Originality. 161 

the means by which that blessed work of my salvation 
is to be effected. Not according to what I do here, but 
according to the spirit in which I do it, shall I be jud;. 
hereafter. Is there anything in this reflection that tends 
to weaken our zeal, prudence, industry, forecast, in the 
exercise of our earthly avocations ? Our worldly things 
would be better done than they are, could we but 
\ iew them only in their due relations to heavenly 
things ; as children are best educated when they are 
accounted as children, and not treated with the state, 
and ceremony, and indulgence, that rightfully belong 
to the mature. 

God bless you, my beloved mother, — I remain, your 
warmly affectionate, SARA COLERIDGE. 


" The shaping Spirit of Imagination." 

To her Husband. 

Ikhester, Somerset, October 25, iS 36. — Chemists say 
that the elementary principles of a diamond and of 
charcoal are the same ; it is the action of the sun or 
some other power upon each that makes it what it is. 
dogous to this are the products of the poet's mind ; 
he does not create out of nothing, but his mind so acts 
on the things of the universe, material and immaterial, 
that each composition is in effect a new creation. Many 
of Mrs Remans' poems are not even in this sense crea- 
tions; she takes a theme, and this she illustrates in 
I L 

1 62 Memoir and Letters of Sara Coleridge. 

fifty different ways, the verses being like so many 
wafers, the same thing in blue, green, red, yellow. She 
takes descriptions from books of natural history or 
travel, puts them into verse, and appends a sentiment 
or a moral, like the large red bead of a rosary at the 
end of several white ones. But all these materials have 
undergone no fusion in the crucible of imagination. 
We may recognize the author's hand by a certain style 
of selection and arrangement, as we might know a room 
furnished by GUIoav or Jackson, according to the same 
rule ; but there is no stamp of an individual mind on 
each separate article. 


Speculations on Life and Organization — Life considered as the 
connecting Link between Mind and Matter — Mr Coleridge's 
Application of this View to the Scriptural Narratives of De- 
moniacal Possession ;* and to the Christian Doctrine of 
the Resurrection. 

To the Same. 

IlcJicstcr, October 27, 1836. — The sensorium is what 
we feel by ; if 1 have a blow on the back, it is not the 
back that feels, but that organ ; if I am informed that I 
shall have a blow on the back, it is the sensorium that 
gives the feeling of apprehension. In the one case the 
channel of communication is the body, in the other the 
mind ; when the sensorium is affected through the body, 

* Coleridge's Lectures on Shakespeare, &c., Vol. II. pp. 152, 3, pp. 155, 6. 

Life in Man and Animals. 163 

it may affect the mind, when affected through the mind, 
it may affect the body; as this inn may convey news 
from Ilminster to Wincaunton, or news from Wincaunton 
to Ilminster. What is the sensorium — what constitutes 

it the organ of feeling? surely something more than the 
material particles of which it is composed, and which 
alone our material senses recognize. Life, whatever 
that power may be ; the same principle that animates 
the flower, the zoophyte, ant, elephant, man; a some- 
thing which is neither the soul, nor the visible, tangible 
frame, but keeps both united, or rather, makes the 
human frame a fit receptacle and instrument of the 
iv. tollable soul, this life it is which feels by the sen- 
sorium. Now my father seems to imagine that the 
"evil spirits" spoken of in Scripture, may be some- 
thing akin to the fierce spirit or life of a tiger, the 
treacherous spirit or animating principle of a wolf, 
which might mysteriously have become connected with 
the human frame ; and indeed we know, that when 
on fails, the animating principle which remains in 
man, the mere life, appears endowed with evil, bestial 
qualities, malice, treachery, ferocity, immitigable cruelty ; 
in the presence of some madmen or idiots, we feel as in 
the presence of a wolf or a tiger, not in the presence of 
what is called a cruel, remorseless man. But to imagine 
that the soul of a demon, that is, a demon's identity, can 
inhabit the body of a man, co-tenant with his soul or 
identity, or that the two identities can be mingled to- 
gether, (two alls, made into a double all, as if fire or 
water could be made doubly fire or water, by the addi- 

164 Memoir and Letters of Sara Coleridge. 

tion of fresh fire and water) is surely an incredible creed, 
a proposition <~- ,-^ry to that very reason which is to 
decide on us acceptance or rejection. Equally monstrous 
is it to suppose that the man's soul is expelled, and that 
the demon's soul reigns in its stead ; then the subject of 
discourse is not a man at ill, but a demon in a man's 
body ; we cannot then say that a man is cured, but that 
a demon has been expelled from a mortal body, and the 
soul, which formerly dwelt in it, recalled, as the soul of 
Lazarus was recalled to his lifeless body. Is it not 
more reasonable to suppose that the Almighty Saviour, 
by restoring the body to the conditions of health, freed 
the suspended soul, restored the instrument by which, 
in this world of matter, the soul can alone be conscious 
of its existence, and so doing, expelled that evil nature 
which, in the absence of a higher power, reigned in the 
unruled realm? When we speak of being inspired by 
the Spirit, united to Christ, having our corrupt will 
purified by the influence of the Holy Ghost, do we ever 
mean that our personal identity is lost, that either 
Person of the Trinity is indisputably one with our 
person ? 

Life is the steam of the corporeal engine ; the soul is 
the engineer who makes use of the steam-quickened 
engine. In life there is no more personal identity than 
in the bod)' to which it belongs ; indeed the tangible 
frame, and the life together constitute the body ; it is 
my life, my body, not more myself than my clothes, and 
only seeming more so because in this world inseparably 
connected. The Reason is the soul in its integrity, with 

The Resurrection of the Body. 165 

all its faculties awake; the reason maybe impaired, and 
some o\ its faculties may remain capable of action, 
memory and imagination. While the reason, as to 
its integrity, is suspended, the evil life or nature may 
draw those faculties to the service of evil, and make 
them cry aloud, "What have I to do with thee, Jesus of 
Nazareth." Yes, the life and corporeal frame togeth r 

ititute the body ; therefore I have the same b 
that I had as a child, and God may raise me up with my 
identical body ; for the same principle of life continues, 
and surrounds itself with new matter according to its 
need, as the fish forms its shell suitable to its own shape, 
and ever renewed according to its growing wants. Thus 
the sluil-fish is ever the same, though the shell i- yearly 
different. Thus the soul yearly expands, having yearly 
a tenement enlarged and accommodated for its ex- 
1, till at length the conditions of the perfect soul 
are attained. The soul can never cease to exist, but it 
may cease to be conscious of existence, as in a trance ; 
or as the soul of Lazarus was suspended during the four 
days that his body lay in the gave. In sleep, the soul, as 
to its integrity, seems to be suspended, and the life plays 
with the memory, the fancy, and the- faculties of the 
soul ; or rather with the soul itself, then capable only 
of exerting those partial faculties. It is plain that in 
the case of a madman afterwards restored, his reason- 
able soul has been suspended, not destroyed, or sepa- 
rated ; and who knows but that the soul of an idiot 
exists in its integrity, that the soul of an infant who dies 
young exists in mature perfection, though destitute in 

1 66 Memoir and Letters of Sara Coleridge. 

this world of an instrument by which to exercise its 
faculties ? And if life be not the result of organization, 
but the organizer, is it not conceivable that it may exist 
apart from the material frame, as the soul may exist 
apart from the body ? 


"The Remains"* — Metaphysics like Alum. 

To the Same. 

Ilchester, November 1836. — How delightful are the 
"Remains!" I quite grieve to find the pages on my 
left hand such a thick handful. One wants to have 
such a book to dip into constantly, and to go on reading 
such discussions on such principles and in such a spirit, 
on a thousand subjects. 

It does not seem as if the writer was especially con- 
versant with this or that, as Babbage with mechanics, 
and Mill with political economy; but as if there was a 
subtle imaginative spirit to search and illustrate all 
subjects that interest humanity. Sir J. Mackintosh said 
that " S. T. C. trusted to his ingenuity to atone for his 
ignorance." But in such subjects as my father treats of, 
ingenuity is the best knowledge. 

Like all my father's works, the " Remains " will be 
more sold at last than at first. Like alum, these meta- 

* Published now under the following titles : — Lectures on Shakespeare, 
&C. ; Notes on English Divines ; and Notes Theological, Political, 
&c— E. C. 

TJu • Remains. 167 

physical productions melt slowly into the medium of the 
public mind ; but when time has been given for the 
operation, the}' impregnate more strongly than a less 
dense and solid substance, which dissolves sooner, has 
power to do. Why ? because the closely compacted 
particles are more numerous, and have more energy in 
themselves. By the public mind, I mean persons 
capable of entertaining metaphysical discussions. 

.Abbott's " Corncr-Stone," and other Religious Works — Comparison 
of Archbishop Whately with Dr Arnold, in their mode of 
setting forth the Evidences of Christianity — Verbosity of Dr 
Chalmers — Value of the Greek Language as an Instrument 
of Mental Cultivation. 

To Mis> Arabella Brooke. 

Ilchcstcr, November 8, 1836. — My dear Miss Brooke — 
Though I am tinder orders to write to no one except 
my husband and mother, or sister, I must thank you 
with my own hand for thinking so affectionately of me 
in my trouble, as you evidently have done, and as I felt 
sure you would do. 

Since I saw you, I have read with great attention, and 
I humbly hope, not without profit, Abbott's " Young 
Christian," " Corner-Stone," and " Way to do Good." In 
a literary point of view, these works are open to much 
criticism, though their merits in that way may be consi- 

1 68 Memoir and Letters of Sara Coleridge. 

derable ; and certainly, in several points, the author is 
far from being what a sincere member of our Church 
can call orthodox. For instance, his view of the Atone- 
ment seems to me below the right standard ; he dwells 
solely on the effect produced in man, entirely leaving 
out of sight the mysterious propitiation towards God \ 
and his illustration of the " Lost Hat " strikes me as 
inadequate and presumptuous. But notwithstanding 
these exceptionable points, and several others, — his very 
diffuse style, and a frequent want of harmony between 
his expressions and the deep reverential feelings which 
he aims to excite, — I think very In ^hly of Abbott, as an 
energetic, original, and fresh-minded writer ; and I think 
his works calculated to do great good, by leading those 
who peruse them to scrutinise their own spiritual state, 
and the momentous themes of which he treats with zeai 
ana fervour, if not always with perfect judgment. 

I wish I could put into your hand a book from which 
I have derived great pleasure, Whately's " Essays on 
some Difficulties in the Writings of St Paul." The Arch- 
bishop does not seem to be a profound, subtle, meta- 
physical writer, neither does he aim at anything of the 
kind. What he does aim at, he seems to me to have 
well accomplished. He reasons clearly to particular 
points from a general view of Revelation, not from the 
nature of things in themselves ; and his style is vigorous, 
simple, and perspicuous. In this respect it resembles 
that of Dr Arnold, but the latter does not so exclusively 
address the understanding ; he does more in the way of 
touching the heart, at the same time that (when party 

Dr. Chalmers. 169 

spirit is out of the question) he reasons foreibly and 
clearly, as far as I can judge, I mean. 

The substance of what pleases you in Abercrombic,* 
I have lately read in Chalmers's Bridgewater Treatise ;"f* 
and, oh ! when the word)' Doctor does get hold of an 
argument, what a splutter docs he make with it for 
dozens of pages. He is like a child with a new wax 
doll, he hugs it, kisses it, holds it up to be admired, 
makes its eyes open and shut, puts it on a pink gown, 
puts it on a blue gown, ties it on a yellow sash ; then 
tends to take it to task, chatters at it, shakes it, and 
whips it; tells it not to be so proud of its fine false 
ringlets, which can all be cut off in a minute, then takes 
it into favour again ; and at last, to the relief of all the 
company, puts it to bed. 

I wish very much that some day or other you may 
have time to learn Greek, because that language is an 
idea. Even a little of it is like manure to the soil of the 

mind, and makes it bear finer flowers. — My dear A , 

your truly affectionate friend, 

Sara Coleridge. 

Inquiries concerning the Intellectual Towers and the Investigation of 
Truth. By Dr Ahercrombie.— E. C. 

t ( in the Adaptation of External Nature to the Moral and Intellectual 
Constitution of Man. By the Rev. Dr Thomas Chalmers. — E. C. 



Letters to her Husband ; to Miss A. Brooke ; Mrs I'lummer ; Mrs 

H. M. Jones. 



Difference between the Italian Satiric Poets and their English 



io Chester Place, 1837. — I cannot think that the Eng- 
lish Beppoists have any authority among the Italians for 
their style. Ariosto conceived his subject to a certain 
decree lightly and sportively; and Pulci has a vein of 
satire; but these ingredients in them are interfused so as 
to form a tertium illiquid — not grape-juice and water, 
but wine. Their satire and their sentiment, their joke 
and their earnest, do not intersect each other in distinct 
streaks, like the stripes of red and blue in the Union 
Flag. / 


Unsatisfactoriness of Desultory Correspondence — " Phantasmion, 
.1 Romance of Fairyland" — Defence of Fairy Tales by Five 
Poets — Books about Children not often Books for Children 
— Incongruous Effect of Scripture Lessons, intermixed with 
Nursery Talk and Doings — Christianity best taught by a 
Mother out of the Bible and Prayer-Book — " Newman's Ser- 
mons" — " Maurice's Letter*- ' ihe Quakers." 

To Miss Arabella Brooke. 

10 Cluster Place, Regents Park, July 29, 1S37. — We 

c>' and Letters of Sara Coleridge. 

always feel some difficulty in addressing those whom we 
are not in the habit of addressing frequently; we feel 
that the letter which is to make up for long silence, and 
epitomize the goings on of a good many months, ought 
to be three times as kind, satisfactory and news-ful, as if 
two others had preceded it. And being at the same time 
quite sure that this very circumstance will tend to freeze 
the genial current of our thoughts, and that occurrences 
which might have had some savour in them, if told when 
fresh, are now grown vapid, we are apt to look on the 
matter as a sort of task, something we would wish to 
perform better than we have any chance of doing ; 
and this feeling is the stronger the more we desire 
to stand well with the letter-expectant. Letters that 
come seldom cannot do without preambles ; which are 
always stupid things, but sometimes seem necessary to 
prevent the appearance of abruptness. 

Without extending my preamble quite over the whole 
first page, I will commence my true epistle by begging 
your acceptance of a little book which is to accompany 
it. This little book was chiefly written the winter before 
I last saw you, when I was more confined to my couch 
than I am now ; and whether any friends agree with my 
husband (the most partial of them all) in thinking it 
worth publishing or no, they will attach some interest to 
the volume as a record of some of my recumbent amuse- 
ments ; and be glad to perceive that I often had out-of- 
door scenes before me in a lightsome, agreeable shape, 
at a time when I was almost wholly confined to the 
house, and could view the face of nature only by very 

Dr Newman ana ;^, s . y _. 

Christian ministers derived^ nQ ^^ ^ ^ ^.^ 

the insufficiency oi . r ste pping upon a stage where the 
brotherhood— the | uv upQn yQU( faut entering a crowd> 

body, and subje<£ e verytallj str ong,and striking indeed, 

ger of a constr^^test attcnt ; on i n t j lcsc ( j avs too> to 
prf t at::i1 Sfry Tale is the very way to be not read, but 
shwl *9 aside with contempt. I wish, however, I were 
onlj as sure that -wr fairy-tale is worth printing, as I am 
that works of this class are wholesome food, by way of 
variety, for the childish mind. It is curious that on this 
point Sir Walter Scott, and Charles Lamb, my father, 
my Uncle Southey, and Mr Wordsworth, were all agreed. 
Those names are not so great an authority to all people 
as they are to me ; yet I think they might be set against 
that of Miss Edgeworth, powerfully as she was able to 
follow up her own view. Sir W. Scott made an excep- 
tion in her favour, when he protested against the whole 
generation of moral tales, stories o r naughty and good 
boys and girls, and how their parents, pastors, and masters 

* i.i woy of phantasmion. 

Go, little book, and sing of love and beauty, 
To tempt the worldling into fair)- land ; 
Tell him that airy dreams are sacred duty. 
Being better wealth than au^ht his toils command, 
Toils fraught with mickle harm. 

But if thou meet some spirit hi^h and tender, 
( »n blessed works and noblest love intent, 
Tell him that airy dreams of nature's splendour, 
With graver thoughts and hallowed musings blent, 
Prove no too earthly charm. — S. C. 

Written in a copy uf Phantasmion about the year 1845. — E. C. 

1 76 Memoir and Leti^ r 

" Sara Coleridge. 

did, or ought to have manager ^ 
denied that such stories are exV s 
indeed spoil their taste utterly for wo, f ' 
of everyday life, though not less of trut ' 

the grand secret of their sale seems to be, ' to 
terest the buyers of the hooks, mamas and ^ ' .s, 

who see in such productions the history of tn>~ jwn 
experience, and the reflection of minds occupied with 
the same educational cares as their own. In this way, 
" Grave and Gay," by Miss Tytler, sister of the historian, 
was very interesting to me ; but I would not put it into 
the hands of my children, excellent manual of divinity as 
it is thought by some. It is not in such scraps, nor with 
such a context, however pretty in its way, that I should 
like to present the sublime truths of Christianity to the 
youthful mind : " Florence put the cherry in her mouth, 
and was going to eat it all up," &c, — just before or after 
extracts from the Sermon on the Mount, or allusions to 
the third chapter of St John's Gospel. The Bible itself, 
that is the five Books of Moses, and the four Gospels, 
with a mother's living commentary, together with the 
Catechism and Liturgy, appear to me the best instru- 
ments for teaching the Christian religion to young 

I have lately been reading, certainly with great in- 
terest, the sermons of John Henry Newman ; and I trust 
they are likely to do great good, by placing in so strong 
a light as they do, the indispensableness of an orthodox 
belief, the importance of sacraments as the main channels 
of Christian privileges, and the powers, gifts, and offices of 

Dr Newman and Mr Maurice. 177 

Christian ministers derived by apostolical succession ; — 
the insufficiency of personal piety without Catholic 
brotherhood — the sense that we are all members of one 
body, and subjects of one kingdom of Christ; — the dan- 
ger of a constant craving for religious excitement, and 
the fatal mistake of trusting in any devotional thoughts 
and feelings, which are not immediately put into act, and 
do not shine through the goings on of our daily life. But 
then these exalted views are often supported, as I think, 
by unfair reasonings ; and are connected with other 
notions which appear to me superstitious, unwarranted 
by any fair interpretation of Scripture, and containing 
the germs of Popish errors. 

The letters of Maurice to the Quakers should be taken 
in conjunction with these discourses, to qualify them and 
keep the mind balanced. Maurice is a profound thinker 
a vigorous though rough writer ; and I trust you would 
not like him the worse for sharing my father's spirit. 
His divinity seems based on the A'ds to Reflection, and 
though no servile imitator, he has certainly borrowed his 
mode of writing and turn of thought very much from 
S. T. C. 


178 Memoir and Letters of Sara Coleridge. 


" Mary and Florence ; or, Grave and Gay," a Tale for Children* — 
Right Interpretation of St John iii. 8 — Heavenly Things should 
be set before Children, both " plainly " and " by a Parable." 

To Mrs H. M. Jones, Hampstead. 

I have read " Mary and Florence," and have been 
charmed with it ; the story has made me " grave " and 
" £ a y>" according to the writer's intention. As to the 
" utility " of this and other such works, that is, whether 
or no they answer their professed purpose, I could write 
a long sermon or essay, which my readers would suspect 
to be more than half borrowed from S. T. C. and H. N. C. 
The illustration of the nature of the soul by the wind, I 
thought calculated, in some measure, to mislead. The 
wind is as material a thing as the cheek it blows upon ; 
we cannot see it, but we can feel and hear it ; it is 
cognizable by the senses, and therefore material. The 
verse from St John's Gospel does not, I think, bear upon 
this point at all, but has reference solely to the opera- 
tions of divine grace. " As the wind bloweth where it 
listeth," so grace comes by the will of God, not at man's 
pleasure ; " thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst 
not tell how it cometh nor whither it goeth, so is every 
man that is born of the Spirit." 

Thou knowest the existence of grace in the heart by 
its effects, but canst not understand the nature of it, nor 
of God's working ; " how it cometh, nor whither it 
gocth." This is the case with every man who has such 
grace given him that his heart and mind are born again 
— i.e., totally renewed. Such, I believe, is the interpre- 

* By Miss Fraser-Tytler. — E.C. 

Descriptions v. 

>n of this passage by good divines, and surely it has 
no reference to the nature of spirit as opposed to 
matter. Nicodemus did not fancy that he co the 

I of man, but he desired an explanation of our Lord's 
Thou must be born again." Miss "I 
a material description of heaven to her young catechu- 
mens. In this she goes contrary to the judgment of the 
celebrated Abbott, who. in his " Corner-Stone " declares 
this to be an injudicious method ; but John Abbott 
author of the " Child at Home " (often confounded with 
the former), declares that young folks ought to have 
their feelings warmed by these visual pictures. To 
combine the two methods would be best. I should think. 
But let me say again that, in spite of all these critical 
thoughts, I was charmed with the book, and so much 
excited with the g. at the end (which to be 

sure is as wild a romance, the conversion at least, as 
:i Mrs Rate'. that I almost feared being 

kept awake by it, and for a long time could think of 
nothing but Herby in a similar situation. He would 
not have slept, I fear, under such circumstances as 
Florence did. The story of the " Mouse " is sweetly and 
humorously told. 


Regent's Park. 
To Mrs Plummer. 

IO CJusUr Place, Regent's Park. August 26th, 1S37. — 
In regard to our change of abode, we have great rep. 
on the whole to be satisfied. From the up-stairs apart- 
ment we have really a nice look out, which, however. I 

1 80 Memoir and Letters of Sara Coleridge. 

may not dignify with the name of view. The fore- 
ground consists of good houses, and to the right a garden 
with stone balustrade, and beyond, the trees of the park, 
behind which we can see a portion of many a glowing 
sunset. Where dark green foliage, backed with buff and 
crimson clouds, is clearly to be seen, one ought not to 
complain of being banished from the shows of nature. 
The walks, too, are invaluable in this neighbourhood. 
At Hampstead I always had to climb, here a few steps 
brings me into the park, with its acres of green turf, and 
flocks of country looking (and sounding) sheep. The 
grand want is the want of water ;* but even at Norwood 
(rural as that is) we should be no better off in this 
respect. You may imagine what a playground the park 
is for our children. 


Dryden's censure of Ovid, on the score of the rhetorical Expres- 
sions attributed to the dying Narcissus — His Observations not 
true to Nature, nor applicable to the case in question — Defi- 
nition of " Force" and " Liveliness" in Poetry — The Homeric 
Mythology not Allegorical — Symbolical Character of the 
Imagery of Milton and Wordsworth — Originality of Virgil. 

To her Husband. 

Sept. 13th, 1837.— Dryden's criticisms were fine for 
the times in which he wrote, which were corrupted from 

" This was before the adjoining estate, with its artificial lake, wooded 
knolls, and islets, was added to Regent's Park. In after years, the walk 
right across the new park and up Primrose Hill to see the sunset (return- 
ing along the terraces) was a favourite one with my mother, on fine summer 
evenings. — E. C. 

C kind's Metamorphoses. 1 8 1 

the purity of the Elizabethan age, and had not learnt 
the metaphysical accuracy which some in these days 
have attained to. Comparing them with the best critics 
of this day, I should describe them as lively and dis- 
tinctly expressed rather than profound. He finds great 
fault with Ovid's poems, but I think in one passage on 
wrong grounds. " Would a man dying for love express 
his passion by such conceits as ' Inopem me copia fecit,' 
and a dozen more of the like sort, poured on the neck 
of one another, and meaning all the same thing?" 
Shakespeare, in " Romeo and Juliet," showed forth the 
passion of love, which is so pre-eminently imaginative, 
venting itself in every variety of metaphor, and I can 
assert from experience that it is the impulse of minds in 
strong emotion, to eddy perpetually round the one mag- 
netic theme, and to express the same feeling in twenty 
different forms of speech. I think " inopem me copia 
fecit," which is not a mere verbal contrast, but a contrast 
of things actually existing, is perfectly natural under the 
circumstances. " How strange is my fate ! my very 
abundance causes me to be in want ; possession makes 
me suffer the pangs of unsatisfied desire." Such reflec- 
tions would be perfectly natural to a man who could 
pine away in love-sickness of his imagined self. Such a 
death is not to be described with the physical accuracy 
of a medical report. We are to be shown the passion 
of love incarnate, not flesh and blood dying in conse- 
quence of love. And surely Ovid's tone of description 
is to be modified by the nature of his subject ; fears and 
sorrows that brought on such catastrophes as the being 

1 82 Memoir and Letters of Sara Coleridge. 

changed into a tree or a waterfall, may be touched with 

a lighter hand than the agonies of Lear or Othello 

In regard to force and liveliness, may we not call the 
latter one mode of the former, rather than a separate 
property ? Scott's poems afford samples of lively force, but 
they contain little of that force which seizes the imagina- 
tion, and obliges it to contemplate fixedly something 
spiritual, which has nothing in it of corporeal life. The 
"Leech Gatherer " is a poem which is forcible but solemn ; 
it arrests and fixes the mind, instead of hurrying or 
leading it on. Yet the illustrations of this poem are as 
lively as the main design is far removed from bodily 
attributes. The stone is absolutely endued with motion 
by the comparison with a sea-monster that had crept 
out upon the shore to sun himself. Liveliness expresses 
the motion, the action of life, that by which life is mani- 
fested. When the lively is also sublime, as the " Battle 
of the Gods," we do not apply to the mixed effect the 
term of a quality which so generally describes the less 
exalted movements and acts of life ; but Homer's force, 
as you have observed, always consists of liveliness. In 
him there is no force like that of Dante, Milton, Words- 
worth, Schiller, Coleridge, where lively metaphors and 
life-like images, are but to adorn or partly represent the 
various realities of abstract being. Their force results 
from the thing signified, together with the outward 
symbol, from the union and mutual fitness of the two. 
Philosophers may fancy that the Grecian mythology was 
allegorical, but the force of Homer is not derived at all 
from those inner significations. His divine and human 

Homer and Milton. 18 


battling is sublime, from being vast, fearful, and indis- 
tinct It is animated, full of animal motion; it is a 
picture that strikes and pleases in and for itself alone ; 
it is conceived and executed with all the power of 
mature genius, inspired by the circumstances, the wants, 
desires, hopes, lives of a peculiar state of human life, a 
state which precluded contemplation, and demanded 
action. Compare Homer's poetry with Milton's first 
books of " Paradise Lost." With what does the latter 
-ess our minds ? " With greatness fallen, and the 
excess of glory obscured." It is the force with which 
this subject is made to engross our contemplations, to 
tinge the whole of that dark fiery region and those 
prostrate angel warriors with an awful sadness, the 
aptness of that region so described to shadow out 
lal bale, of those vast and dimly lustrous images to 
represent the warring evils of our spiritual part, this it 
is which constitutes the peculiar perfection of that grand 
product of imagination. In this it is essentially different 
from Homer, life and progression are not its charac- 
terising spirit. They are represented by the older poet 
with the greatest conceivable truth and power, and 
Milton availed himself of that prototype in the embody- 
ing of his conceptions. He imitated Homer in as far as 
he trode the same ground with him, but the main scope 
of his poem was an aboriginal of his own intellect. In 
regard to Virgil, whom Dryden rather unfairly, as I 
think, contrasts with Homer, it appears to me that he 
has been rather misappreciated by being constantly 
looked at in his aspect of an imitator, and that his having 

184 Memoir and Letters of Sara Coleridge. 

cast his poem in a ready-made mould, has prevented 
most critics from observing the peculiarities of his own 
genius in the substance of thought, and in the external 
ornaments of diction. A finer and more true criticism 
might be excited by discovering and expressing that 
which was his own, rather than that which he borrowed. 


" Parochial Sermons" by John Henry Newman — Power and Beauty 
of his Style — Tendency of his Teaching to exalt the Passive 
rather than the Active Qualities of Humanity — the Operation 
of Divine Grace on the Soul is a Mystery, the visible Effect 
whereof is Holiness — But Writers of the Oxford School ap- 
pear to represent the Effect as no less invisible than the Cause 
— The Ordinance of Preaching. 

To the Same. 

Chester Place, September 2p'd, 1837. — I think your ex- 
pressions about Newman quite well chosen. Decidedly 
I should say he is a writer, first, of great talent, secondly, 
of beauty. The beauty of his writing is shewn for the 
most part in the tasteful simplicity, purity, and lucid 
propriety of his style ; but now and then it is exhibited 
in well chosen and brief metaphors, which are always 
according to the spirit of the subject. Speaking of 
children, in allusion to our Saviour's remark, that of 
such is the kingdom of heaven, he observes that this is 
only meant of little ones in their passive nature ; that, 
like water, they reflect heaven best when they are still. 
However, it seems to be a point with the Oxford writers, 

The Oxford Divines. [85 

either for good or evil, very much to represent, not chil- 
dren only, but men, as the passive un-cooperating sub- 
ject (or rather, in one sense, object) of divine operation. 
They arc jealous of holding up, or dwelling much upon, 
grace as an influence on the conscious spirit, a stimula- 
tor and co-agent of the human will, or enlightener of 
the human intellect. That view, they think, is insuffi- 
cient, leads to an inadequate notion of Christian ordin- 
ances, and of our Christian condition, and causes a 
confusion between God's general dealings with the 
human race, or His subordinate workings with Chris- 
tians, and His special communications to the members 
of the New Covenant. " Salvation" is to be considered 
(exclusively) "as God's work in the soul." But whether 
it b{ not just as much God's work if carried on with the 
instrumentality of those faculties which He originally 
conferred, may be a question. Again, the Oxford writers 
dwell much on the necessity of a belief in mysteries not 
level to our understanding (of which my father says 
that they cannot run counter to our reason, because 
they do not move on any line that can come in contact 
with it, being beyond the horizon of our earthly faculties). 
But the question is whether our Saviour ever spoke <>f 
any operations on men, the effects of which they were 
not enabled plainly and clearly (if their hearts be well 
disposed) to judge of. The operations themselves are 
not our concern, any more than the way in which God 
created the earth, and all that is therein. The opera- 
tions themselves belong to that heaven which none can 
understand but He that is in heaven, and which conse- 

1 86 Memoir and Letters of Sara Coleridge. 

quently I cannot believe that God ever meant us to 
understand, the symbols which the inspired writers em- 
ploy on this subject being more probably intended to 
convey a notion of the desirability and accessibility of 
heaven than of heaven itself. Whately truly says, in 
relation to subjects of this kind, that a blind man may be 
made to understand a great deal about objects of sight, 
though sight alone could reveal to him what they are. 

To return to my theme. It is an undoubted truth 
that the manner in which God operates upon man is 
and must be as unintelligible to man as the way in which 
God created him at first ; but does it flow from this truth, 
or does it appear from the tenor of Scripture, that Christ, 
who constantly appealed to the reason and the will of 
His hearers (as Newman himself urges against the Pre- 
destinarians), ever spoke of divine operations on man, 
the effects of which he might not judge of by intelligible 
signs. The Syrian was commanded to bathe in a cer- 
tain river, and how it was that bathing in that river 
could heal his leprosy, it was not given him to know. 
But was he commanded to believe that he had been 
healed of leprosy, while to all outward appearance, and 
by all the signs which such a thing can be judged of, 
the leprosy remained just as before? Surely it is not 
from the expressions of Scripture, but from the sup- 
posed necessary consequences of certain true doctrines, 
according to a certain mode of reasoning, that the non- 
intclligibility of the effects of God's working is contended 
for. Newman himself urges that baptism is scarcely 
ever named in Scripture without the mention of spi- 

Spiritual Regeneration. 

ritual grace ; that baptism is constantly connected 
with regeneration. And then I would ask, is not 
spiritual grace generally mentioned in Scripture, either 
with an implication or a full and particular descrip- 
tion of those good dispositions and actions which 
are to proceed from it, and which men may judge of, as 
of a tree from its fruits ? And is regeneration ever 
mentioned in Scripture in such a way as to preclude 
the notion that it is identical with newness of life ? and 
is not newness of life, according to our Saviour and St 
Paul, identical with doing justice and judgment for 
Christ's sake, doing righteously because of feeling right- 
eously ? Are we ever led by the language of Scripture 
to suppose that regeneration is a mystical something, 
whi/n, though it may, and in certain circumstances must 
produce goodness and holiness, yet of its own nature 
need not absolutely do so ; which may exist in uncon- 
scious subjects, as in infants, acknowledged incapable 
of faith and repentance, which might, as to its own essence 
(though the contrary actual ly is the case; exist even in 
the worst of men ? In short, that regeneration is the 
receiving of a new nature, a more divine, and yet not 
better or more powerful nature. Surely here are words 
without thoughts. What notion have we of a divine 
nature which does not include or consist of the notions 
of goodness and power ? Newman illustrates the sub- 
ject by the case of devils, who, he says, have a divine 
but not a good nature. To elucidate the obscure doc- 
trine of regeneration by reference to evil spirits is like 
attempting to brighten twilight by the shades of night, 

1 88 Memoir and Letters of Sara Coleridge. 

and is a perfect contrast to the proceeding of our Sa- 
viour, who was accustomed to explain " the kingdom of 
heaven" by parables and stories about things which His 
listeners daily saw witu their eyes, and handled with 
their hands. 

In the same spirit of being mysterious above what is 
written, Newman and his fellow-labourers in the Oxonian 
vineyard are wont to contend that preachers are bound 
to preach the gospel, as a blind servant is bound to 
deliver a message about things which he can never see, 
as a carrier-pigeon to convey a letter, the contents of 
which it cannot understand. They are not to preach 
for the sake of saving souls, nor to select and compose 
from the gospel in order to produce a good effect, nor 
to grieve if the gospel is the savour of death to those 
who will not hear. In short, it would be presumption 
and rationalism in them to suppose that their intellect 
or zeal was even to be the medium through which God's 
purposes were to be effected. What God's purposes 
are in commanding the gospel to be preached, and send- 
ing His Only Son into the world, they maintain that we 
cannot guess (as if God had not plainly revealed it Him- 
self throughout the Bible). They are merely to exe- 
cute a trust, to repeat all the truths of the gospel, one 
as much and as often as the other. For what practical 
result of such a principle can there be, unless it be this, 
that a clergyman is to preach as many sermons on the 
Trinity and the Incarnation as on faith and hope and 
charity, and the necessity of a good life, along with its 
details. Yet Newman is the very man who would 

The Book of Exodus. 

accuse such a proceeding of irreverence, and too great 

an exercise of intellect. 


Graphic Style of the Old Testament Narratives — Greek and 
Roman History less Objective. 

To the Same. 

September 30///, 1837. — I think Herby is more struck 
with Exodus than with Genesis, for the former is even 
more strikingly objective than the latter, and the 
account of the various Plagues arrests the attention 
even of the youngest mind. The most objective pas- 
sages in Roman and Grecian history unfortunately are 
not the really important ones and the hinges of great 
events ; they are biographical episodes or anecdotes, for 
the most part ; as the striking off the heads of the 
poppies, the death of Regulus, and much of what re- 
lates to Alexander, the Roman emperors and their 
private follies. But in the Old Testament a great 
battle is won by the Israelites because Moses sits upon 
a stone on a hill, and has his anus held up on either side 
by Aaron and Hur. The whole history is a series of 
pictures. If you make pictures of Roman history, you 
must imagine the postures, the accessory parts, all the 
detail of surrounding objects ; but in the Bible they are 
made out for you. Thus you can call to mind the 
main course of events in Jewish history by means of 
such pictures impressed upon the memory ; but Roman 

190 Memoir and Letters of Sara Coleridge. 

history could not correctly be represented in any such 
manner. A series of its most picturable scenes would 
not recall the march of the principal events. 

Married Happiness. 
Marriage, indeed, is like the Christian course ; it must 
either advance or go backwards. If you love and 
esteem thoroughly, the more you see, and do, and feel, 
and talk together, the more channels are opened out for 
affection to run in ; and the more room it has to ex- 
pand, the larger it grows. Then the little differences 
and uncongenialities that at first seemed relatively im- 
portant, dwindle into nothing amid the mass of concord 
and tenderness ; or if their flavour still survives, being 
thus subordinate, like mustard or other condiments 
which would be intolerable in large proportions, it adds 
a zest to the whole dish. 


" Phantasmion " a Descriptive Piece; not an Allegory, or Moral 
Tale — Want of Artistic Unity in Goethe's Faust. 

To the Same. 

Sept. 29th, 1837. — In regard to " Phantasmion's "want 
of general purpose and meaning, I can only say that it 
does not belong to that class of fictions in which a 
single truth or moral is to be illustrated by a 
sequence of events, of which Miss Edgeworth's and 
Miss Martineau's tales are instances, or in which, as in 
the " Fairy Queen " and the " Pilgrim's Progress," the 

Phantasmion. 191 

character and descriptions arc all for the sake of an 
allegory, which not only shines through them, but 
determines the general form to be produced, as the 

-tern of an animal under the flesh. It belongs 
to that class of fictions, of which Robinson Crusoe, 
Peter Wilkins, Faust, Undine, Peter Schlemil, and the 
Magic Ring or the White Cat, and many other fairy 
tales are instances ; where the ostensible moral, even if 
there be one. is not the author's chief end and aim, 
which rather consists in cultivating the imagination, and 
innocently gratifying the curiosity of the reader, by 
exhibiting the general and abstract beauty of things 
through the vehicle of a story, which, as it treats of 
human hopes, and fears, and passions, and interests, and 
q{ those changeful events and varying circumstances to 
which human life is liable, may lend an animation to 
the accompanying descriptions, and in return receive a 
lustre from them. It may be a defect in "Phantasmion'' 
that one thought is not as predominant throughout the 
narrative as in some of the above-mentioned tales ; and 
I may venture to say, (comparing little things with 
great), that this want of unity, exhibited in a somewhat 
different way, is also perceptible in Faust. There the 
prevailing thought at the outset is quite merged in 
another, which arises adventitiously out of the progress 
of the story. We begin with the hopes and fears of a 
philosopher, with the Satanic principle of knowledge 
apart from goodness, working only potent evil ; we end 
with a tale of seduction, of an innocent creature coming 
in contact with subtle and wicked beings, her beauty 

192 Memoir and Letters of Sara Coleridge. 

and goodness of heart being thrown into strong relief 
by the gloomy ana awful circumstances in which she is 
placed ; this black, with gleams of white, being Goethe's 
constant mode of producing effect, analogous to Martin's 
painting. The Faust is not a symmetrical whole, but a 
dual consisting of two halves ; for, however the author 
might prove logically, that the evils of the latter part of 
the story do arise out of the wrong-headedness and 
heartedness, described in the first part, still — to the 
feelings of the readers, (and they are the rightful judges 
in this case), the history of Margaret is an episode, an 
independent relation, which inspires its own peculiar 
thoughts, fancies, and emotions, in a superseding way, 
and does not act upon the whole as a mere vessel to 
carry forward the interests and concerns announced 
from the first. Compare Faust with any of Shake- 
speare's, Jonson's, or Massinger's fine plays, and we 
shall see its inferiority in regard to totality of im- 


Preparations for the study of Divinity — Tendency to Discursive- 
ness inherited from her Father. 

To the Same. 

October 4th, 1839. — I feel the strongest bent for theo- 
l ogical topics; and it seems to myself that I should want 
neither ingenuity in illustration, nor clearness of concep- 
tion, to a certain extent; but then I am utterly deficient 
in learning and knowledge. I feel the most complete 

Literary Difficult* [93 

sympathy with my father in his account of his literary 
difficulties. Whatever subject I commence I feel dis- 
content unless I could pursue it in every direction to 
the farthest bounds of thought, and then when some 
scheme is to be executed, my energies are paralysed 
with the very notion of the indefinite vastness which I 
g to fill. This was the reason that my father wrote 
by snatches. lie could not bear to complete incom- 
pletely, which everybody else does. 

A view of Grasmere — " Prosy " Letters preferred to Practical ones- 
Inefficiency of Dames' Schools, and even of National Schools, 
at that time conducted— Effect of Church Principles and 
Practice ring .1 Religious tone to a Scfw 


10 Chester Place, Regent 's Park, October 21st, 1834. — 
You would have been pleased, could you have witnes 
the reception of your sweet picture in this house. It 
arrived the day before Henry's return home, and it was 
quite a pleasure to take him into the drawing-room, as 
soon as he had made himself neat after the journey, 
and show him the new " Grasmere." The view is a 
more characteristie one of the Lake and Vale than the 

It was in order to remove this acknowledged inefficiency that the first 
Training College for National Schoolmasters was established :v I 
by the National Society, under the direction of the Rev. Derweot 

ridge, in 1841. — 1 

1 N 

194 Memoir and Letters of Sara Coleridge. 

other which we possess ; and in it we can point to the 
very spot * where my brother Hartley lives, which, to 
mama and me, is very interesting. 

I cannot now answer your nice full letter as it deserves, 
for I have a good deal of epistolary work on hand ; but 
I must tell you one thing, which is, never to apologize 
to me for prosing. What some people call prosing, I 
like ; and what I do dislike in letters is a long history of 
comings and goings, visitings and being visited, allu- 
sions to Mrs A. B., and Lady C. B., and other folks whom 
I never saw, and do not care twopence about. 

Your remarks on National Schooling I fully accede to, 
as far as my knowledge extends ; still when the educa- 
tion of a people is to be considered, even allowing the 
truth of them all, it is hard to decide positively against 
institutions of the kind in some shape or other. Six 
Dames' Schools under your superintendence, energetic 
body as you are, might be an excellent substitute ; but 
I am sorry to say, in those which I have heard of lately, 
nothing, or next to nothing is learned, and the parents 
merely pay for having their children kept out of harm's 
way. Have you ever thought much about Normal 
Schools ? Till some better system is adopted than at 
present generally prevails, and the art of teaching is 
regularly taught, I fear the National Schools will con- 
tinue very inefficient. 

In regard to instilling religious feeling, that, I fear, no 
large school can ever do, but if a foundation of correct 
principles were laid, and the Church and her ordinances 

* Nab Cottage, on the road between Grasmere and Rydal. — E.C. 

The British Constitution. 195 

rendered more prominent objects for the minds of the 
children than they have hitherto been, this surely would 
be something. Feeling might come in other ways, by 
the nameless opportunities of life; and the two (what 
taught at school, and what accrued to the learner 
elsewhere) might work together for good. 


Conservative Replies to some Arguments of the Radical Party 
The British Constitution not originally Popular but Paternal — 
An appeal to Universal Suffrage not an appeal to the Collective 
Wisdom of the age, but to its Collective Ignorance — " The 
majority will be always in the right ; " but not till it h is 
adopted the views of the Minority — Despotism of the mob in 
America regretted by many Americans — English Government 
not a mere machine for registering Votes — How are the 
People to be trained to a right Kxercise of their Liberties ? — 
" Govern them, and lift them up for ever." 

To Mrs H. M. JONES, in reply to a Political Essay by Dr Park. 

" The British Constitution is founded on public 
opinion." The institutions and forms of government 
in which this idea is more or less adequately manifested 
have been wrought out by public opinion, yet surely 
the idea itself is not the result and product, but rather 
the secret guide and groundwork of public opinion on 
the point in question, as embodied in definite words 
and conceptions. But what public opinion was that 
which moulded our admired policy, and fashioned the 
curious and complicated mechanism of our state 

196 Memoir and Letters of Sara Coleridge. 

machine ? Did it reflect the minds and intellects of the 
majority ? Or was it not rather the opinions of the 
best and wisest, to which our artistocratic forms of 
government gave both publicity and prevalence. 

Surely we have little reason to say that public opinion, 
taken at large, is necessarily just and wise by virtue of 
its being public, — necessarily that to which the interests 
of the nation may be safely entrusted. If we identify 
it with the opinions of the majority at all times and on 
all subjects, it cannot be identified with the collective 
wisdom of the age. Like foam on the surface of the 
ocean, pure if the waters below are pure, soiled and 
brown if they are muddy and turbid, it can but repre- 
sent the character of that from which it proceeds, the 
average understandings and morals of the community. 
How are the masses to be purified and tranquillized ? 
How rendered capable of judging soundly on affairs of 
state, as far as that is possible to men of humble station ? 
Surely not by the introduction of a vote-by-ballot 
system, which virtually silences the gifted few, and 
reduces to inaction the highest wisdom of the day. 
Truth, it is said, must ever prevail ; but unless utterance 
is given her, — nay, more, unless her voice is heard, not 
drowned by the clamours of the crowd, what means has 
she of prevailing ? Public opinion is consonant to 
reason and goodness only inasmuch as it is influenced 
by the wise and good. It is often grossly absurd, and 
the public opinion of one year or month is condemned 
by that of the next. There is some truth in the notion 
of Miss Martineau, to which, by stress of arguments she 

Government by Majorities. [97 

has been driven, "that the majority will be in the right.' 
The only rational interpretation of which seems to me 
to be this, that, on given points, the majority ultimately 
decide in favour of the truth, because, in course of time, 
the opinions of the wisest on those particular subjects 
are proved, by experience and successive accessions of 
suffrages from competent judges, to be just ; they are 
stamped before the public eye and in characters which 
those who run may read (or as Habakkuk really has it, 
"he may run that readeth "), and in such points public 
opinion is in fact the adoption of private opinion by the 
public ; the judgment approved by the majority is 
anything rather than that which the majority would 
have formed by aid of their own amount of sense and 
talent, for " nel mondo non e se non volgo." In time 
the whole lump is leavened with that which emanated 
from a few ; but what practical application should be 
made of this axiom, " the majority will be in the right ? " 
Ought it to be such as would lead us to throw political 
power, without stop or stay, directly into their hands, and 
abide all the consequences of their blundering appren- 
ticeship, while in particulars in which the public interests 
are concerned, in which immediate action is required, 
they are learning to be right ? Will it console us under 
the calamities which their ignorance may inflict, that 
they will know better in the end ? And when the Com- 
monwealth is in ruins, will this after-wisdom restore the 
.shattered fabric, or indemnify those who have suffered 
luring its disorganization ? This notion of a ruined 
imonwealth appears no visionary bugbear to th< 

1 98 Memoir and Letters of Sara Coleridge. 

who believe the continuance of a Christian and Catholic 
government essential to the well-being of the state. 

Before we argue about public opinion, before we 
decide what this great power has already done, or what 
it ought to do, it would be as well to settle what we 
mean by the term. The public opinion of this country, 
on par tiadar points, in this age of the world, is perfectly 
just and enlightened. On the Newtonian or Copernican 
system, for instance, public opinion now is identical with 
that of the philosopher in his closet. But what was 
public opinion on this same system in the age of Kepler 
and Galileo ? (for Newton was anticipated in some 
measure by those great men). If, however, by public 
opinion be meant the opinions of the multitude taken 
collectively, the general body of their opinions con- 
cerning all matters of which man can take cognisance, 
— this can no more be the best possible, than the mass 
of mankind are as able, moral, and enlightened as a 
certain number of individuals in every age. But ought 
not a state to be guided by the best possible opinions ? 
Ought it to be swayed by the uncorrected thoughts of 
the multitude ! 

It is not high Tories and Churchmen alone who feel 
that in America public opinion is a tyrant, — because it is 
a public opinion not sufficiently acted on by the wisest 
;md best individuals ; — their voice has utterance, and in 
time is heard, but by the forms of society and of govern- 
ment established there, — especially the want of a landed 
gentry and influential endowed Church, — they do not 
enough prevail over the voices of the crowd ; and the 

American Democracy. 199 

will of the majority is too much felt for the welfare of 
the majority themselves. Many Americans are now 
admitting this, and it appears either implicitly or ex- 
plicitly in the pages of every American traveller. Miss 
Martineau would have helped us to find it out had we 
needed her information. 

With us, government hitherto has not been degraded 
in its character to that of a machine, the functions of 
those who are engaged in it being simply this, to ascer- 
tain and obey a popular will, like the index of a clock 
worked by a pendulum. Our laws and institutions have 
been moulded by the suggestions of a wise minority, 
which the mechanism of our state machinery enabled to 
come gradually into play ; so that the interests of the 
pie have been consulted rather than their blind 
wishes. Thus, our constitution, considered as an outward 
thing, has been formed according to an idea of perfection 
(never in this world to be more than partially realised) 
— an idea existing equally in the minds of all our 
countrymen, but most distinctly and effectively de- 
veloped in those which are aided by an acute and 
powerful intellect, improved to the highest point by 
education, study, and reflective leisure. 

Is it not obvious from Dr Park's own abstract that 
our government has never been popular in the sense in 
which my father denies it to have been such ? Has it 
not ever been " a monarchy at once buttressed and 
limited by the aristocracy?" Was it ever popular as 
the American government is so ? If not, still less has 
it been popular after such a sort as our modern liberals 

200 Memoir and Letters of Sara Coleridge. 

— our separators of Church and State — will leave no 
stone unturned to 'anake it. On the other hand, is it not 
clear as noon-day — nay, gloried in by numbers — that, 
notwithstanding the prolonged duration of Parliament, 
the remnant of lordly influence in the popular elections 
and House of Commons, the standing army, and national 
debt, the British State is more democratic in this nine- 
teenth century than at any former period ?* Ought it 
to be still more democratic ; still more the mere repre- 
sentative of the multitude, and exponent of their will ? 
Are we likely to fare better under the dominion of the 
people than this country did in former times, when 
government had not renounced its right to consult for 
the benefit of the community, even independently of its 
inclinations ? On the answer to this question depends 
the answer to that of Dr Park, were the acts above 
named constitutional ? 

The sage whig Hallam is of opinion that the Reform 
Bill went too far in establishing democratic principles ; 
and as to such politicians as Hume, Warburton, Roe- 
buck, and their allies, I should imagine they sympathised 
but little in the anxiety of reasoners like Dr Park and 
S. T. C, for the balance of powers, and so that they 
could but succeed in overthrowing the church and the 
aristocracy, would care much less than a straw for 
the old and venerable idea of the British Constitution. 

* We cannot surely imagine that more power and liberty were really 
enjoyed by the people under the sway of the strong-headed, strong-handed 
Cromwell, or that their interests were more attended to during the corrupt 
reign of Charles II. — S. C. 

Insanity. 201 

A noble national character belongs to the people of 
England, and grieved indeed should I be to suppose 
that they wanted a " foundation of moderation and 
good sense.'' But how are those good qualities to be 
most efficiently improved, confirmed, elicited ? How 
does a wise mother act in regard to the children under 
her care, — those children in whom she perceives with 
delight the germs and first shoots of a thousand amiable 
affections and excellent dispositions ? I need hardly 
say that she does not trust to them solely ; that she 
remembers of what jarring elements man is a compound; 
and that she takes care to keep the passions and infirm 
tempers of her charge in due restraint, in order that 
their good feelings and reasoning habits may be strength- 
ened and increased. Just so should a paternal govern- 
ment act towards the national family which it has to 

These are some of the thoughts which have been 
suggested to me by the perusal of Dr Park's instructive 
abstract. I am aware that they are quite imperfect and 
inconclusive ; but they give a notion of the way in which 
I have been led to look on the subject of government. 


Insanity — Intermediate State of the Departed not distinctly 
revealed in Scripture. 

' Irs Joshua Stanger. 

10 Chester Place, Xovonbcr 2§th, 1 837. — In> 
of insanity, I believe there has been a lucid interval 

202 Memoir and Letters of Sara Coleridge. 

before death, but in such a case as that of this was 

perhaps hardly *"p be expected. Where derangement 
has been brought out by some mental cause, the last 
illness may produce a change both in mind and body, 
which may for a short time restore reason. But de- 
rangement in was merely a symptom of general 

bodily decay, and it was not likely that an increase of 
that very weakness which first disordered her faculties 
should be attended by any brightening of them. 

It is very awful to think in how many ways the 
opportunity of a death-bed preparation may be denied 
us ; it may be prevented not only by sudden death, but 
also by loss of mental power, only to terminate in dis- 
solution. We may trust, however, that for our friends 
" to die is gain," whatever may be the immediate or in- 
termediate state of those who thus leave us. Mr Dods- 
worth, Mr J. H. Newman, and other influential writers, 
insist strongly on this point, that the Resurrection and 
not the departure from this life, is the period on which the 
hope of a Christian ought to be fixed ; and they say it 
is too common to hear the bereaved enlarge on the 
immediate felicity of the released sufferer escaped from 
his tabernacle of clay. For my part, I cannot think all 
the texts they bring to prove their points entirely con- 
clusive ; and it does not seem clear to me that Scripture 
has left anything positively revealed on this subject. 
For all practical purposes, the death of every Christian 
is to him the coming of the Lord. 


Letters to her Husband, to Mrs Joshua Stanger, Mrs Plummer, 
Miss A. Brooke, Miss Trevenen. 



Letter of Condolence to a Friend on the Death of a Brother.* 
To Mrs Joshua STANGER, Wandsworth. 

io Cluster Place, Regent's Park, January \6th, 1838. — 
My dear friend, — By this time I conclude you are returned 
from your distressful and agitating journey; and I will 
no longer delay to express my grief at the melancholy 
termination of all your long anxieties for your dear 
brother. But in this case there really and truly is much 
to soothe and console your feelings, and there is no 
difficulty in finding a topic of comfort on the subject, 
when I have such a happy conviction that he was pre- 
pared to exchange this world for a more blessed state 
of existence, and that you have a heart sufficiently dis- 
ciplined by thought and previous trial, and that heavenly 
aid of which thought and trial are but instruments, to 
take true pleasure in the contemplation of his " great 
gain ;" and look back on his past life, not so much to 
awaken earthly regret, as to find sources of satisfaction 
in regard to that which we trust he now enjoys. For, 

The youngest son of Dr Calvert of (ireta Bank, Keswick, Cumber- 
land, and nephew of the Raisley Calvert who was Mr Wordsworth's 

friend. His only sister, Mr-- Joshua Stanger, was my mother's earliest 
1 and companion in their native vale ; to which she returned in 1843. 
after a few years -pent in the South ; and now dwells there in the midst of 
her own people . — E . C. 

206 Memoir and Letters of Sara Coleridge. 

indeed, a more innocent and conscientious creature, I 
really believe he has not left behind him, among all his 
survivors, as far as I know ; and purity, though no pass- 
port to heaven, is a great qualification for a blessed 
station there. The want of it for a course of many 
years, may be made up for by our Saviour's perfect 
righteousness. Yet, " blessed are the pure in heart, for 
they shall see God ;" and surely those who have been 
pure and peaceful all their lives, as I imagine to have 
been the case with your dear brother, must have a 
special enjoyment of this heavenly privilege. 

Your loss, and the tears of natural sorrow which I 
know you must shed, have made me vividly imagine 
what my own feelings would be on the loss of either of 
my brothers. The wrench would indeed be severe. I 
suffered much in parting with my beloved father, but 
unfortunately I had been so little in his society during 
my life, being separated from him by illness during two 
or three years of our residence at Hampstead, that his 
departure did not make so great a difference to my 
heart as it would have done otherwise. And so accus- 
tomed had I been to commune with him in his books, 
more than face to face, that even now I never feel, 
while I peruse his sayings, chiefly on religious subjects, 
as if he were no more of this world. I fear it will be 
difficult for me to learn resignation by your trials, but I 
trust they will not be altogether lost on me for salutary 
admonition ; and I can represent them, more strongly 
to myself than those of persons with whom and with 
whose connections I am less intimate. Dear Raisley's 

Memoir of S.T.C. by Mr. Gillman. 207 

image, indeed, is associated with all my early recollec- 
tion, and haunts the scenes of my childhood and girl- 
hood, which memory presents with more warmth and 
distinctness than those of after-life. — Believe me, my 
dear Mary, your truly affectionate friend, 

Sara Coleridge. 


Mr Gillman's Life of her Father — Earlier Development of Mi 
Coleridge's Mind in the Direction of Poetry than in that of 
Theological Research. 

To Mr GlLl man. The Grove, Highgate. 

May 8///, 1838. — I must tell you how gratified I have 
been by the perusal of the first volume of the Life.* I 
a^-ure you we all feel deeply cheered and pleased to 
think that such a record of a good man's affection and 
respect for S. T. C. will exist for the world. The work 
contains many new and, as I think, valuable pieces of 
my father's writing and conversation ; and I cannot but 
believe that it will be read with profit and pleasure by 
many persons less nearly interested in the subject of 
the Memoir than myself. My father's life must neces- 
sarily seem deficient in outward events to those who 
care for nothing but story. His letters would not tell 
his external history as those of Sir Walter Scott did his ; 
and many circumstances must be passed over cursorily 
or in silence by a biographer of strictly delicate feeling. 
' " Life and Letters of S. T. Coleridge," by James (lillman, Esq.— E.G 

2o8 Memoir and Letters of Sara Coleridge. 

But there are many meditative, reflective readers in the 
world, many who appreciate my father's works and ad- 
mire his unworldly and deeply-feeling character, and 
they will be glad to peruse a memoir of S. T. C. such 
as the present, undebased by the display of paltry vanity 
and selfish pride. I am glad Mr Gillman put a note 
and a comment on the letter about Trinity to Mr 
Cottle. Not with such arguments did my father defend 
the great Catholic doctrine in later years ; but it is part 
of the history of his mind, and shows how far it was 
from having attained to its full growth in philosophical 
theology, when in poetry it had come into the most 
perfect blossom. 


Blessing of Fraternal Affection — Danger to which it is exposed 

from Human Infirmity. 

To Mrs Plummer, Gateshead. 

10 Chester Place, July 20th, 1838. — The longer I live 
the more deeply I enter into the spirit of the Psalmist's 
animated expressions about fraternal unity and love. 
But minds must be in almost a heavenly state before 
this unity and love can reign uninterruptedly among 
them. The contentions and passing anger of childhood 
are succeeded by sources of disagreement and aliena- 
tion in too many cases of a much deeper kind. Brothers 
and sisters marry, and the new interests and discordant 
feelings of the fresh family connexions, are often found 

Visit to Heme Bay. 209 

to weaken attachments and all but sever fraternal 
friendships which would otherwise produce a great deal 
of happiness. All this is expressed in the gross ; but a 
something of what I allude to alloys the social comfort 
of most family circles which I happen to know in- 
timately. There would be little use in reflecting upon 
these unpleasant topics, to mention which I was led 
away, I scarce know how, if the contemplation of the 
evil did not lead to such measures for its avoidance or 
mitigation as are within our power ; and that there are 
many such, your cheerful temper will lead you very 
readily to believe and affirm. 


Seaside Occupations— Bathing : Childish Timidity not to be cured 
by Compulsion — Letter-writing : Friendly Letters, like Visits, 
not mere Vehicles for News. 

To Mrs Plummer, Gateshead. 

Heme Bay, Aug. 30//;, 1838. — You ask for a letter 
from Heme Bay, and I take the opportunity to comply 
with your request now that papa and the children and 
Ann have just set off on the rumble of the coach for 
Canterbury. I have been strolling on the beach, rejoic- 
ing that the CanteiL ury visitors have so softly brilliant 
a day for their exc 'rsion, yet partly regretting that 
they have turned their backs on the bathing-place. 
This is quite a day to make Ilcrby in love with the 
ocean waters. At first he suffered much from fear 

2 io Memoir and Letters of Sara Coleridge. 

when he had to enter them, and he has not yet 
achieved the feat of going thoroughly overhead ; but 
I think you will agree with us that no good would be 
done by forcing him. Troy town, as he long ago ob- 
served himself in reference to the treatment of children, 
after all was not taken by force. Bathing is not like a 
surgical operation, which does good however unwillingly 
submitted to ; and we cannot make children fearless by 
compelling them to undergo the subject of their fears. 
This process, indeed, has sometimes made cowards for 
life. There is much in habit doubtless, but persons 
who act upon this truth, without seeing its practical 
limitations, often commit great errors.* 

I must not, however, proceed to state these limita- 
tions, and see whether or no they agree with your 
speculations on child management, seeing that my 
paper and my time have their limitations too. Apropos 
to this last point, however, I must digress again, to say 
how few people have what I consider just and clear 
notions on the subject of letter-writing! -f* You are one 
of my few cordial, genial correspondents who do not fill 
the first page of their epistles with asseverations of how 
much they have to do, or how little news they have to 

* It may be worth while to mention, in proof of the practical success of 
my mother's indulgent system, that the early nervousness here alluded to 
completely passed away. My brother learned to swim as easily as most 
boys as soon as he went to school at Eton, where bathing and boating be- 
came his favourite amusements. — E. C. 

+ The lady whose letter-writing style is thus pleasantly described is the 
wife of the Rev. Matthew Plummer, Vicar of Heworth, and author of 
several useful works on Church matters. — E. C. 

Letter Writing. 21 1 


tell, and how sure you arc, as soon as it is at all neces- 
sary to y<»ur well-being, to hear it from some other 
quarter. Why do these people waste time in visiting 
their friends of an evening, or calling on them of a 
morning ? Why do they not pickle and preserve, and 
stitch and house-keep all day long, since those and 
such-like are the only earthly things needful ? The 
answer doubtless would be, " Friendships must be kept 
up ; out of sight out of mind ; and as man is a social 
creature, he must attend to the calls of society.*' Now 
it is exactly on this ground, and not, in nine cases out 
of ten, for the sake of communicating news, that letter- 
writing is to be advocated. It is a method of visiting 
our friends in their absence, and one which has some 
advantages peculiar to itself; for persons who have any 
seriousness of character at all, endeavour to put the 
better part of their mind upon paper ; and letter-writ- 
ing is one of the many calls which life affords to put 
our minds in order, the salutary effect of which is 


The History of Rome, by Dr Arnold — The Study of Divinity, 

Poetry, and Physiology, preferred to that of History or Politics 

— Christian Theology, as an Intellectual System, based on 

Metaphysics — Ii ^oortance of Right Views on these Subjects — 

ional Education the proper Work of the Church. 

To Miss Arabella Brooke. 

Heme Bay, September St/i, 183S. — We are reading Dr 
lold's " Rome," and feel that we now for the first 

2 1 2 Memoir and Letters of Sara Coleridge. 

time see the old Romans off the stage, with their bus- 
kins laid aside, and talking like other men and women. 
They do not lose by this : the force of the Roman 
character is as clearly brought out in Dr Arnold's easy, 
matter-of-fact, modern narrative, as it could have been 
in the stilted though eloquent language of their own 
historians. People say how Whiggish it is, in spite of 
the disclaimers in the preface. There is certainly a 
great deal of anti-aristocracy in it ; but then, I imagine, 
if ever aristocracy showed itself in odious colours, it 
must have been during the early times of Rome ; and 
no faithful historian could have concealed this, though 
he might have manifested less zeal and alacrity in the 
task of exposing it. However, I speak in ignorance : 
politics and history are subjects in which I have less of 
my desultory feminine sort of information than some 
others which seem rather more within my compass. 
Divinity may be as wide a field as politics ; but it is 
not so far out of a woman's way, and you derive more 
benefit from partial and short excursions into it. I 
should say the same in regard to poetry, natural history 
in all its branches, and even metaphysics — the study of 
which, when judiciously pursued, I cannot but think 
highly interesting and useful, and in no respect injurious. 
The truth is, those who undervalue this branch of 
philosophy, or rather this root and stem of it, seem 
scarce aware how impossible it is for any reflective 
Christian to be without metaphysics of one kind or 
other. Without being aware of it, we all receive a 
metaphysical scheme, either partially or wholly, from 

The National Society. 21 


those who have gone before us; and by its aid we in- 
terpret the Bible. It is but few perhaps who ha 
time to acquire any clear or systematic knowledge of 
divinity. When the heart is right, individuals may be 
in some respects first-rate Christians without any specu- 
lative insight, because the little time for study is caused 
by active exertion ; and this active exertion, pursued 
in a religious spirit, and converted into the service of 
God by the way of performing it, is perhaps the most 
effective school of Christianity. But when there is time- 
to read, then I do think that, both for the sake of others 
and of ourselves, the cultivation of the intellect, with a 
view to religious knowledge, is a positive duty ; and I 
believe it to be clearly established, though not cordially 
and generally admitted, that the study of metaphysics is 
the best preparatory exercise for a true understanding of 
the Bible False metaphysics can be counteracted by 
true metaphysics alone ; and divines who have not the 

one can hardly fail, I think, to have the other 

My husband is warmly interested in a plan for im- 
proving National Schools, and bringing them into con- 
nexion with the Church, on the basis of the National 
Society. Henry sent the explanatory papers drawn 
up by the Committee of the National Society to Dr 
Arnold; but he, "with regret," declined to sign, on 
account of the tc^ great influence which, in his view, 
the clergy would have over the education machine. 
Perhaps you* will feel with him ; but all must admit 

* I may perhaps be permitted to explain that the lady to whom this 
was addressed is related to the old Cornish family of Penrose, and 

2 1 4 Memoir and Letters of Sara Coleridge. 

that it is a difficult problem how any education worthy 
of the name can be carried out without religion, and 
how religion worthy of the name can be taught without 
the framework of certain doctrines. 


Literary Varieties — Spirituality of Northern Nations, and Meta- 
physical Sublety of the Greeks. 

To her Husband. 

Chester Place, September 1838. — The introduction to 
this work* is an excellent piece of criticism, written in a 
good style, with a spice of your own living individual 
manner in it, a sort of refined downrightness ; your 
manner compared with my father's is as short-crust to 
puff paste. 

" A passion for descending into the depths of the 
spiritual being of men," is ascribed to the Scandi- 
navians and Germans ; true, they are more spiritual 
than the Southerns, and yet what could exceed the 
metaphysical subtlety of the ancient Greeks ? The 
feelings of the former are more imbued with a seeking 
of the supernatural, and yet the intellect of the latter 
could sound any depths of the spirit which are fathom- 
able by man, as S. T. C. seems to say in the " Friend," 
where he speaks of their great advances in metaphysical 
lore, compared with their backwardness in science. 

was therefore supposed on this occasion to be likely to take a particular 
interest in the expressed opinions of the eminent man who had married 
her cousin. — E. C. 

* The ''Introduction to Homer," by H. N. Coleridge.— E. C. 

Sensitiveness. 215 


Miracle of the Raising of Lazarus passed over by the Synoptical 

To the Same. 

Cluster Place, September 1 838. — The more one thinks 
of it the more puzzling it seems that the raising of 
Lazarus is only recorded in St John's Gospel. The 
common way of accounting for the matter cannot easily 
be set down, but yet it does not satisfy. We feel there 
may be something yet in the case which we do not 
fathom, and knowing as we do from constant experience 
how much there is in most things which transcend our 
knowledge,— what unsuspected facts and truths have 
come to light, and explained phenomena of which we had 
given quite different explanations previously; we cannot 
but feel that the true way of accounting for this dis- 
crepancy has never yet come to light. 


Connection between the Senses and the Mind — Poetic Genius 
implies a sensitive Organization — Early Greatness of great 
Poets — Poetic Imagination of Plato brought to bear upon 
Abstract Ideas. 

To the Same. 

J f erne Bay, h*£tember 21st, 1838. — Herbert is a most 
sensitive child, as ai. .e to every kind of sensation, as quick 
in faculties. Indeed I believe that this sensitiveness 
s itself tend to quicken and stimulate the intellect. 
lie will have especial need of self-control, and I trust in 
time that he will have it ; but at his age the sun of true 

216 Memoir and Letters of Sara Coleridge. 

reason has but sent up its rays above the horizon ; its 
orb is not yet visible. If we are fearfully and wonder- 
fully made in body, how much more so in mind, and 
how much less can we fathom the constitution of the 
latter than of the former ! But considered in a large 
sense they are one ; else how could the mind act on the 
body, the body on the mind ? Where the senses are 
active and rapid ministers to the mind, supplying it 
abundantly and promptly with thought-materials, no 
wonder that the intellect makes speedy advances ; and 
such sensitiveness is doubtless one constituent of a poet. 
Still, whether or no true greatness and high genius shall 
be discovered, must depend upon the constitution and 
properties of the intellect in itself; and this is the reason 
that so many fine buds prove but indifferent flowers, 
rather than the popular account of the matter that the 
sooner the plant blossoms, the sooner it will fade and 
fall. Never tell me that Milton and Shakespeare were 
not as wonderful children as the young Rosciuses, or 
any other modern prodigy, and hollow puff-ball ! How 
exquisitely does Plato illustrate his subject out of his 
own actual history, out of things moving, sensuous and 
present, filling with life blood the dry, though clear and 
symmetrical vein-work of his metaphysic anatomy! 


Treasures of English Literature— Arnold's " Rome." 

To the Same. 

October 6th, 1838. — I see you have Locke's works in 
folio, and a good Addison. How the possession of these 

The Odyssey. 21 7 

works makes us feci the littleness of our reading — of 
what we can really mark, learn and digest. "Amid a 
thousand tables we stand," and though we do not "want 
food," having access to those tables, yet how sparingly 
can we partake! Even as it is, what a strange, superficial 
thing is the ordinary way of reading a book, even when 
we fancy ourselves reading with attention. I more and 
more grudge to bestow time on the literature of the 
day, and the book club will not gain much of my devo- 
tion. Arnold's "Rome" is no mere ephemeral; that 
book seems destined to fill a permanent place, both as 
embodying Xiebuhr, and from its own merits, as an able, 
animated history and historical commentary. I do not 
judge of it as to arrangement of parts, nor praise it as 
to the minute details of style, but the style, considered 
in a large view, is its great charm, and it is certainly a 
characteristic and vigorous work. The account of 
Dionysius the Tyrant, and remarks on his character, 
and that of the Greek tyrannies are especially striking. 


The Homeric Ith. ~a — Autobiographical Air of the Odyssey. 

To the Same. 

October 2nd, 1838. — What an enigma the Homeric 
Ithaca is! It seems quite out of the question that it should 
be Thiaki. And why should it send only twelve suitors 
if it were the huge island Cephalonia ? The vivid natu- 

2 1 8 Memoir and Letters of Sara Coleridge. 

ralness of the "Odyssey" seems tohave inspired the notion 
of its being an autobiography into the minds of critics 
who differ in various particulars. No doubt it was so 
in the same way that the " History of the Plague" and 
other such fictions were true history. It brought together 
sundry incidents and places with which the writer or 
writers were perfectly familiar from some means or 
other. There is a very natural passage of this kind in 
" Don Juan," taken from some personal narrative, and 
merely versified. It seems as if some critics wrote by 
feel. Le Chevalier had a true sense of a certain charac- 
teristic of the " Odyssey," but how absurdly, as it ap- 
pears to me, has he enunciated and reasoned upon it ! 
Bryant's anti-Asiatic theory seems to run in the face of 
the poem. Surely he must have looked at some place 
in Egypt, and remembered detached passages in the 
" Iliad," without considering the general aspect of the 


Description of the Falls of Niagara in Miss Martineau's 
" Retrospect of Western Travel." 

To Miss E. Trevenen, Helstone. 

October, 1838. — Miss Martineau's "Retrospect of 
Western Travel" I have read and enjoyed. It takes 
you through out-door scenes, and though the politics 
are overpowering now and then, it freshens you up by 
wanderings amid woods and rivers, and over mountain 
brows, and among tumbling waterfalls. I think Miss 

The Falls of Niagara. 2 1 9 

Martineau made one more at home with Niagara than 
any of the other American travellers. She gives one a 
most lively waterfallish feeling, introduces one not only 
he huge mass of rushing water, but to the details of 
the environs, the wood in which the stream runs away, 
&C. She takes you over it and under it, before it and 
behind it, and seems as if she were performing a duty 
she owed to the genius of the cataract, by making it 
thoroughly well-known to those at a distance, rather 
than desirous to display her own talent by writing a 
well-rounded period or a terse paragraph about it. 


Lukewarm Christians. 

To the Same. 

Chester Place, December 1838. — I have no doubt that 

disapproves of the Catholic party just as much as 

of the Evangelicals, and on very similar grounds. It is 
not the peculiar doctrines which offend thinkers of this 
description. About them they neither know nor care. 
It is the high tone, the insisting upon principles, to ascer- 
tain the truth or unsoundness of which requires more 
thought than they are disposed to bestow on such a 
subject. It is the zeal and warmth and eagerness by 
which tempers of this turn are offended. The blunders 
and weaknesses of warm religionists arc not the sources 
of their distaste, but the pretexts by which they justify 
to themselves an aversion which has a very different 

220 Memoir and Letters of Sara Coleridge. 

origin. Be kind to the poor, nurse the sick, perform all 
duties of charity and generosity, be not religious over- 
much — above all, keep in the background all the pecu- 
liar cardinal doctrines of Christianity — avoid all vices 
and gross sins — believe the Bible to be true, without 
troubling yourself about particulars— behave as resign- 
edly as you can when misfortunes happen — feel grate- 
ful to God for His benefits — think at times of your latter 
end, and try " to dread your grave as little as your bed," 
if possible. Such will ever be — more or less pronounced 
and professed— the sum of religion in many very amiable 
and popular persons. Anything more than this they 
will throw cold water upon by bucketsful. 


Letters to her Husband, Mrs Plummer, Miss A. Brooke, Miss 


Characteristics of the Oxford School of Divines — Combinations, 
even for the best Purposes, not favourable to Truth — Superior 
Confidence inspired by an Independent Thinker — Are Pres- 
byterians Excluded from the Visible Church ? — Authority 
of Hooker cited against such a decision — Defence of the Title 
of Protestant — Luther : Injustice commonly done to his 
Character and Work. 

To Mrs PLUMMER, Heworth Vicarage, Gateshead. 

10 Chester Place, Regenfs Park, January ijth, 1839. 
— The " Letter of a Reformed Catholic,"* and that on 
the "Origin of Popery," I think remarkably well done, 
clear, able, and popular. Such judgment as I have on 
such a matter I give unto you, and this need not imply 
any presumption on my part. But though I can sin- 
cerely express my approbation of the way in which 
these performances are executed, I must candidly confess 
that I do not follow your husband on the Oxford road, 
so far as he seems to have proceeded. On some subjects, 
specially handled by Newman and his school, my judg- 
ment is suspended. On some points I think the 
apostolicals quite right, on others clearly unscriptural 
and unreasonable, wilfully and ostentatiously main- 
taining positions which, if carried out to their full 
length, would overthrow the foundations of all religion. 

' A Controversial Pamphlet, by the Rev. Matthew Hummer. — E.C. 

224 Memoir and Letters of Sara Coleridge. 

I consider the party as having done great service in the 
religious world, and that in various ways ; sometimes by 
bringing forward what is wholly and absolutely true ; 
sometimes by promoting discussion on points in which I 
believe their own views to be partly erroneous; sometimes 
by exposing gross deficiencies in doctrine in the religion 
of the day ; sometimes by keenly detecting the self-flat- 
teries and practical mistakes of religionists. But the worst 
of them, in my opinion, is that they are, one and all, party 
men; and just so far as we become absorbed in a party, 
just so far are we in danger of parting with honesty and 
good sense. This is why I honour Frederic Maurice, 
and feel inclined to put trust in his writings, antecedently 
to an express knowledge of their contents, because he 
stands alone, and looks only to God and his own con- 
science. Such is human nature, that as soon as ever 
men league together, even for the purest and most 
exalted objects, their carnal leaven begins to ferment. 
Insensibly their aims take a less spiritual character, and 
their means are proportionately vulgarised and debased. 
Now, when I speak of leaguing' together, of course I do 
not mean that Mr Newman and his brother divines 
exact pledges from one another like men on the hustings, 
but I do believe that there is a tacit but efficient general 
compact among them all. Like the Evangelicals whom 
they so often condemn on this very point, they use a 
characteristic phraseology ; they have their badges and 
party marks ; they lay great stress on trifling external 
matters ; they have a stock of arguments and topics in 
common. No sooner has Newman blown the Gospel 

The Economy of Truth. 225 

t, than it is repeated by Pusey, and Pusey is re- 
echoed from Leeds. Keble privately persuades Froude, 

ude spouts the doctrines of Keble to Newman, and 
Newman publishes them as " Fronde's Remains." Now, 
ems to me that under these circumstances, truth 
not quite a fair chance. A man has hardly time to 
reflect en his own reflections, and ask himself, in the 
stillness of his heart, whether the views he has put forth 
are strictly the truth, and nothing more or less than the 
truth ; if, the moment they have parted from him, they 
are eagerly embraced by a set of prepossessed partisans, 
who assure him and all the rest of the world that they 
are thoroughly excellent. (How man}- truly great men 
have modified their views after publication, and in subse- 
quent works have written in a somewhat altered strain). 
These writers, too, hold the dangerous doctrine of the 
" economy of truth." isistently with these views, if 

one of them wrote ever so extravagantly, the others 
would refrain from exposing him, for fear they should 
injure the cause, at lea I long as he remained with 

them on principal points. God, of course, can bring 
good out of evil, and in this way I do believe that the 
errors of the party will serve His cause in the end as 
well as their sound r*~-~ts. Yet I cannot think that 
what I have described is the truest method of promoting 
pure religion ; and it seems to me that the most effective 
workmen in the Lord's vineyard, those whose work tells 
most in the end, are they who do not agree beforehand 
to co-operate, but who pursue their own task without 
regard to the way in which others execute theirs. 

226 Memoir and Letters of Sara Coleridge. 

Well, I have looked at the " Reformed Catholic " 
again, and think it as well done as I did at first ; but 
still there are some points on which I am not quite of 
the writer's mind. 

I cannot yet bring myself to believe that the Kirk of 
Scotland in no sense belongs to the Body of Christ — in 
no sense makes a part of the visible Christian Church. 
Would Hooker have said so ?* One Lord, one Faith, 
one Baptism ; these are the only essentials, I think, 
which he names. A man may even be a heretic, yet 
not altogether — nay, not at all — excluded from this 
communion, though he can never belong to the mystical 
invisible Church of the elect till he becomes a Christian 
in heart and mind, as well as in outward profession. 
The Kirk may have deprived herself of a privilege by 
losing the episcopal succession, may have thrown away 
a benefit by rejecting the government of bishops (if we 
only put the matter in the outward light), yet she may 
still make an erring part of that Church to which Christ's 
Spirit is promised. 

This, however, is a difficult subject. I do not pre- 
tend to have very decided convictions upon it. Of one 
thing, however, I feel pretty sure, that I shall call 
myself a Protestant to the end of my days. Yes ! a 
Catholic Christian, as I humbly hope, — and, moreover, 
a Protestant of the Church of England. I profess that 

* But we speak now of the visible Church, whose children are signed 
with this mark, "One Lord, one faith, one baptism." In whomsoever 
these things are, the Church doth acknowledge them for her children ; 
them only she holdeth for aliens and strangers in whom these things are 
not found. — Hooker, Eccl. i'ol. Book, book iii. ch. I. — E. C. 

TJie Title of Protestant. 22 7 

" Reformed Protestant Religion " which our monarch 
swears to defend on his coronation ; the Protestantism 
of Cranmer and Hooker, of Taylor, of Jackson, and of 
Leighton. These are great names, and dear and vener- 
able are the associations with the title of Protestant in 
my mind. To call myself such does not make me a 
whit the less Christian and Catholic, nor imply that I 
am so ; it does not mix me up with sectarians any more 
than the latter term connects me with the gross errors 
and grievous practices of Romanists, who, whether they 
are entitled to the name or not, will always assume it. As 
for its being a modern designation, — that which rendered 
a distinctive appellation necessary is an event of modern 
times ; and that, I think, is a sufficient defence of it on 
this " Reformed Catholic " savours altogether of 

wman and the nineteenth century. 

In regard to Luther, I do not jumble him up with 
our reformers as to the whole of his theology; — on some 
points he was less orthodox than they. But I cannot 
think it altogether just to say that he "left, rather than 
reformed the Church." It is the Oxford fashion to 
dwell upon what he omitted, to throw into shade the 
mighty works whir 11 he did ; to hold him forth as a 
corrupter, to forget that ne was a great and wonderful 
reformer. If there were "giants in those days," the 
mightiest of them all was the invincible German. And 
how an)' man who thinks deeply on religious subjects 
can bring himself to speak scorn of this brave Christian 
warrior, or how he can divest his spirit of gratitude 
towards so great a benefactor, to whose magnanimity, 

228 Memoir and Letters of Sara Coleridge. 

more than to any other single instrument in God's hand, 
it is owing that Ave are not blind buyers of indulgences 
at this hour, I confess is past my comprehension. 

"In our halls is hung 
Armoury of the invincible Knights of old." 

Blighting breaths may tarnish the lustre of those 
trophies for a passing moment ; but it is too late 
in the day to teach us that Milton is not a poet, and that 
Luther and Wicliffe, and Ridley, and Latimer were not 
worthy champions of the faith. 


A Little Lecturer — Stammering a Nervous Affection, dependent 

on the Imagination. 

To her Husband. 

Chester Place, Sept. 4tl;, 1839.- — Herby preached last 
night about chemical matters like a regular lecturer; I 
thought he looked quite a little Correggiesque Mercury, 
—or something between Hermes and Cupid, — as he 
stood on the little chair lecturing volubly, and throwing 
out one leg and arm, with his round face glowing with 
childish animation, and a mixture of intelligence and 
puerility. The conclusion was after a list of names a 
league long, "and the last is something like so and so; 
but the chemist's man had a pen in his mouth when he 
answered my question about it, and I could not hear 
distinctly how he pronounced the name." It is wonder- 

Cause of Stammering. 229 

ful how clearly he speaks when there is an impulse 
from within which overbears and makes him forget the 
difficult}' of articulation.* For it certainly is the pre- 
imagination of the difficulty of pronouncing a word that 
ties the tongue in those who stammer. F. M. could 
pronounce a studied oration without stuttering ; I 
account for the fact in this way : it was the hurry of 
mind, excited by the anticipation of an indefinite field of 
words to be uttered, which paralyzed his articulating 
powers. With a paper before him, or a set speech on 
the tablet of his memory, he said to himself: thus much 
have I to pronounce and no more ; whereas in extem- 
porary speech there is an uncertainty, an unlimitedness, 
the sense of which leads most talkers to inject splits quant 
sufficit of you knows, into their discourse, and which 
causes others to hesitate. The imagination is certainly 
the seat of the affection, or rather the source of it. 
The disorder may be defined as a specific weakness of 
the nerves in connection with a particular imagination, 
or it may arise and be generated during the inexplic- 
able reciprocal action, wecksel-wirkung, of one upon the 
other, in which, as S T. C. says, the cause is at the 
same time the effect, and vice versa. The curious thing 
is, that there is an idiosyncrasy in this, as perhaps to 
some decree in all other complaints, and every different 
stammerer stammers in his own way, and under dif- 
ferent circumstances. 

• The slight impediment in his speech, to which my brother was subject 
as a child, was never entirely outgrown, though it diminished considerably 
in after years. — E. C. 

230 Memoir and Letters of Sara Coleridge. 


Philosophy of the " Excursion." 
To the Same. 

Chester Place, Sept. \Jth, 1839. — I am deep in the 
" Excursion," and am interested at finding how much of 
Kant and Coleridge is embodied in its philosophy, 
especially in " Despondency Corrected." I should not 
say that the " Excursion " was as intensely poetical, as 
pure poetry, as ecstatic, as many of the minor pieces ; it 
holds more of a middle place between poetry, philo- 
sophy, and the thoughtful, sentimental story. But it is 
exquisite, be it what it may. 


Lord Byron on the Lake Poets. 

To the Same. 

Chester Place, October 4th, 1839. — "The Lake Poets 
are never vulgar." I often think of this remark of 
Lord Byron. Genius is an antiseptic against vulgarity ; 
but still no men that I ever met, except downright 
patricians, were so absolutely unvulgar as Coleridge, 
Southcy, and Wordsworth. 


Writing to Order — Sunday Stories and Spanish Romances. 

To Miss E. Trevenen, Helston. 

Chester Place, 1839. — Miss 's stories are, as you 

observe, " remarkably fit for their purpose." How she 

- Xmadis de Gaul. 23 1 

run contrive to write so exactly as a story composer for 
a Society ought to write ; how she can manage to be so 
wholly and solely under the dictation of the proper sort 
iA' spirit, I cannot imagine. I, for my part, am neither 
ly enough nor good enough (and I humbly admit 
that to submit on proper occasions to goodiness of a 
certain kind is a part of goodness) for anything of the 
sort. I should feel like a dog hunting in a clog, or a 
cat in gloves, or a gentleman's carriage forced to go 
upon a railroad ; or, to ascend a little higher, as Chris- 
tian and his fellow-pilgrim did when they left the 
narrow path, and got into the fields by the side of it. 
I should always be grudging at the Society's quickset 
hedge on the right hand and the left. As for Herbert, 
he is deep in "Amadis de Gaul;" and the boy that is 
full of the Kndriago and Andandana, and Don Galaor, 
and the Flower of Chivalry himself, and his peerless 
Oriana, is not quite in the right mood to relish good 
charity schoolgirls, and the conversion of cottagers th it 
don't go to church, which Nurse, however, thinks worth 
all the Endriagos in the world. 


Pain more bearable when its Cause is Known — Books and Letters 

composed but never Written— Musings on Eternity — " We 

know not yet what we shall be" — Descriptions of Heaven, 

lbolical, Material, and Spiritual — Conjectures of Various 

Writers respecting the Condition of Departed Souls. 

To Miss Arabella Brooke, Gamstone Rectory, East Retford. 

Chester Place, 1839. — It > s painful to be unable to tin- 

232 Memoir and Letters of Sara Coleridge. 

derstand one's suffering, to translate it into an intelligible 
language, and bring it distinctly before the mind's eye. 
But it is already a sign that we are no longer wholly 
subdued by its power, when we can analyse it, and 
make this very indefiniteness an object of contempla- 
tion. This evinces a degree of mastery over that which 
has of late been a tyrant. And if "to be weak is 
miserable" (oh! how often have I thanked Milton for 
that line !), to exercise any kind of power, or have any 
kind of strength, is so far an abatement of misery. To 
be sure, the explanation which my father gives of this 
mental fact, the uneasiness felt at the unintelligibility of 
an affection, when we cannot tell whence it arises nor 
whither it tends, is not a little abstruse, and what is 
popularly called transcendental. " There is always a 
consolatory feeling that accompanies the sense of a 
proportion between antecedents and consequents. It is 
eternity revealing itself in the form of time." 

Dear Miss Brooke, there are not many persons to 
whom I should quote a metaphysical passage of S. T. C. 
in a letter; but 1 see you are one who like to be what 
the world calls idle — that is, outwardly still from the 
inward activity of thought — to pause and look down 
into the deep stream, instead of hastening on in view 
of the shallow, sparkling runnel. Dear me! some 
people think more over the first page of an essay than 
others do while they write a volume. Thinking too 
much, and trying to dive deeper and deeper into every 
subject that presents itself, is rather an obstacle to 
much writing. It drags the wheels of composition ; for 

Weak Health. 253 

before a book can be written, there is a great deal to be 
done : contemplation is not the whole business. I am 
convinced that the Cherubim do not write books, much 
less publish them, or make bargains with booksellers, 
or submit to the ordeal of disgusting puffery and silly 
censure. I am convinced they do nothing but think ; 
while the Seraphim are equally given up to the busi- 
ness of loving. 

But I must consider the limits of this letter, and the 
observations which it ought to contain, and my letter- 
writing strength, which is at present but small. I am 
truly grieved that I cannot give a proper answer to 
your last, or its interesting predecessor, which came 
with Abcrcrombie's Essay. If I could but put on 
paper, without too much bodily fatigue, half the 
thoughts which your reflective epistles suggested to me, 
little as they might be worth your reading, you would 
see that your letters had done their work, and were not 
like winds passing across the Vale of Stones, but like 
those gales which put a whole forest in motion. That 
reminds me of fenotiici advantage enjoyed by the 
Cherubim and Seraphim. I am sure they do not write 
letters with pen, ink, or paper, nor put them into the 
t, nor stop to consider whether they are worth post- 
. nor look about for franks and private conveyances, 
i'hey have a quintessence of our earthly enjoyments 
and privileges : the husk for them drops off, and all is 
pure spirit and intelligence. 

All this nonsense is excusable in me, because I am 
poorly, out of humour with those activities in which I 

234 Memoir and Letters of Sara Coleridge. 

cannot share, and quite cross and splenetic because I 
am not as free from fleshly ills and earthly fetters as 
the angels in heaven. Apropos to which, I have not 
read Mr Taylor's book, and from your account of it am 
afraid I should not be such a reader as he would wish 
to have, unless, indeed, he confines himself to the state- 
ment of a few principles which may guide our views 
respecting the life to come, instead of attempting to 
describe it particularly, like Dr Watts and others. It 
seems to me so obvious, both from the reason of the 
thing and the manner in which Scripture deals with it, 
that " if one came from the dead " to tell us all about 
it, he would leave us as wise as he found us. In what 
language could he express himself ? In a language of 
symbols ? But that we have already in the Bible ; and 
we want to translate it literally, or at least into literal 
expressions. We know that they who have pleased 
God shall be eternally blessed ; that, they who have 
sinned against the light will suffer from a worm that 
never dies : and what more can we know while we are 
roofed over by our house of clay ? A true account of 
the other world would surely be to the inhabitants of 
earth as a theory of music to the deaf, or the geometry 
of light to the blind. 

Inquirers into the future state are all either Irvingites 
or Swedenborgians, horrified as most of them might be 
to be compared either with Irving or Swedenborg. 
They either give us earth newly done up and furnished 
by way of our final inheritance, observing that man is 
essentially finite, and must therefore have a material 

/ 'tews of the Future State. 235 

dwelling-place; or they talk of a spiritual heaven, 
while the description they give of it is only a refined 
edition of the things and goings-on of this world. 
What else can it be ? All conjecturers may not talk 
of "wax-candles in Heaven," but the spirit which dic- 
tated the thought is in ever)' one of them. 

I think I shall never read another sermon on the 
Intermediate State. Newman has no Catholic consent 
to show for his views on that subject, though doubtless 
they come in great measure from the Fathers. The 
supposition that blessedness and misery hereafter may 
both arise from increased powers, reminds me of an oft- 
quoted passage in a work of S. T. C, in which he con- 
jectures that an infinite memory may be the Book of 
Judgment in which all our past life is written, and 
every idle word recorded in characters from which our 
s can never be averted. It was a fine thought in 
Suedenborg to represent the unblest spirits in the 
other world as mad. His visions are founded on many 
deep truths of religion. Had he given them as an 
allegorical fiction like the " Pilgrim's Progress," it 
would have been well. 


Letters to her Husband, her eldest Brother, Mrs J. Stanger, Mrs 

H. M. Jones. 

Love of Books a Source of Happiness, and likely to be increased 

by Classical Studies. 

To her Eldest Brother. 

January, i S40. — I have a strong opinion that a genuine 
love of books is one of the greatest blessings of life for 
man and woman, and I cannot help thinking that by- 
persons In our middle station it may be enjoyed (more 
at one time, less at another, but certainly during the 
course of life to a great extent enjoyed) without neglect 
of any duty. A woman may house-keep, if she chooses, 
from morning to night, or she may be constantly at her 
needle, or she may be always either receiving or pre- 
paring for company, bul whatever those who practise 
these things may say, it is not necessary in most cases 
for a woman to spend her whole time in this manner. 
Now I cannot but think that the knowledge of the 
ancient languages very greatly enhances the pleasure 
taken in literature — that it gives depth and variety to 
reading, and makes almost every book, in whatever 
language, more thoroughly understood. I observe that 
music and drawing are seldom pursued after marriage. 
In many cases of weak health they cannot be pursued, 
and they do not tell in the intercourse of society and in 

240 Memoir and Letters of Sara Coleridge. 

conversation as this sort of information does, even when 
not a word of Greek or Latin is either uttered or alluded 


Lord Byron's Mazeppa and Manfred — His Success in Satire and 
in Sensational Writing. 

To Mrs H. M. Jones. 

January 14///, 1840. — I have had great pleasure in 
refreshing my girlish recollections of the " Lament of 
Tasso" and " Mazeppa." The latter is the only poem 
of Byron's which reminds me of Scott. I think it most 
spirited and impressive in its line. Byron is excellent 
in painting intense emotion and strong sensation of 
body or mind ; he is also good in satire and sarcasm, 
though not very amiable ; but I do not like him when 
he attempts the philosophic, invading the province of 
Goethe and Wordsworth, or when he tries his hand at 
the wild and supernatural, in which line I think him a 
mere imitator, and far outdone by Scott, Shelley, and 
many others. " Manfred," I think, has been greatly 
overrated, as indeed the public seems now beginning to 
see — the poetical public at least. Still there are fine 
things in it ; but the graphic descriptions in the journal 
are better, I think, than the corresponding passages in 

Sponsorship. 241 


.1 View of the Duties of God-parents — Sponsorship now-a- 
days chiefly a Social Obligation. 

40. — Though writing even the shortest note exhau 
and pains me in my present very weak and irritable 
yet I cannot feel satisfied, dear friend, without 
expressing to you with my own hand how much I am 
pleased by your kind acceptance of the office which 
Henry and I both wish to put upon you, and the very 
kind words which you made use of on the occasion. 
In regard to responsibility, if I had thought that it in- 
volved any, I should have scrupled to atternpt imposing 
such a burden on you, as indeed I should have scrupled, 
in regard to myself, to take upon me the name of god- 
mother to six different children, as I unhesitatingly 
; for whatever the theory of sponsorship may 
and I never yet met one who seemed to me to have 
a very intelligible and satisfactory theory on the sub- 
ject, when one comes to examine the words which are 
usually uttered in this matter by rote), yet the fact is, 
and, as the world is regulated at present, must be, that 
the religious education of children rests almost wholly 
and solely with those who have the bringing of them up 
in other respe jether with the spiritual pastors and 

3 whom the Church appoints. " The duties of a 
-," .-ays a correspondent of mine, " are not very 
well defined ; " but those which I look for from you for 
I Q 

242 Memoir and Letters of Sara Coleridge. 

my now expected little one, are clearly defined in my 
own mind, and are such as I am bold enough to reckon 
upon from your kindness. The truth is, you have ever 
shewn such a special friendship towards me and mine, 
something so much more than mere lip-civility, or even 
slight though genuine good will, such as the majority of 
our pleasant friends and acquaintances afford us, that I 
flatter myself you will view a child of mine with a cer- 
tain degree of favour and partiality for my sake (indeed 
I perhaps may add for its father's and grandmother's 
sakes), and the value of a real partiality from a person 
of worth, in this world of professions, of much speaking 
and less feeling, I am deeply sensible of. This kind- 
ness and interest of feeling is what I would fain secure 
from you, not merely a little nominal formal religious 
examination, which, as matters now stand in the world, 
is all in that way that sponsors ever do or can perform 
for their font-children. This interest I really believe 
you do feel for my H. and E. (it has ever been a plea- 
sure to me to think so), and for their future brother or 
sister, if the dear hope is ever to be realised, I flatter 
myself you would feel, whether you were called the 
little Coleridge's godmama, or simply its mother's friend. 
Only it is pleasant to link a name which implies kindli- 
ness and interest with the thing itself, though perhaps 
the latter would exist in almost equal degree indepen- 
dently of the former. 

Comfort in Sorrow. 243 


he Death of an Infant Daughter. 


1" .» Mrs Joshua Stanger, Wandsworth. 

10 Cluster Place, Regents Park, August 10///, 1840. — 
lear Friend, — Your hist kind note was written in a 
strain which harmonised well with my feelings. Would 
that those feelings which a trial such as we have lately 
sustained must needs bring with it, to all who have 
learned, in any degree however insufficient, to trust in 
Heaven, whether for temporal}- 1 ation or for 

eternal happiness, — would that those f< could be 

more lasting than they are; that they could leave 
»ng anil permanent traces ; that they could become 
" the very habit oi our souls," not a mere mood or passing 
state without any settled foundation. My thoughts had 
turned the same way as yours, where all mourners and 
friends of those that mourn will naturally go for sure 
and certain hope and ground of rejoicing, to that m 
divine chapter .'" J ■ raising of Lazarus. " Thy brother 
shall risu again." This indeed is spoken plainly, this is 
" no parable," no metaphor or figure of speech. But in 
the next chapter we see the same blessed promise illus- 
trated by a very plain metaphor. " Except a corn of 
wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone ; 
but if it die, it beareth much fruit." 

Our loss indeed has been a great disappointment, and 
even a sorrow; for, strange as it may seem, these little 
speechless creatures, with their wandering, unspcaking 
eyes, do twine themselves around a parent's heart from 

244 Memoir and Letters of Sara Coleridge. 

the hour of their birth. Henry suffered more than I 
could have imagined, and I was sorry to see him watch 
the poor babe so closely, when it was plain that the 
little darling was not for this world, and that all our 
visions of a " dark-eyed Bertha," a third joy and comfort 
of the remainder of our own pilgrimage, must be ex- 
changed for better hopes, and thoughts more entirely 
accordant with such a religious frame of mind as it is 
our best interest to attain. I had great pleasure in 
anticipating the added interest that you would take in 
her as your godchild. But this is among the dreams to 
be relinquished. Her remains rest at Hampstead, beside 
those of my little frail and delicate twins. — God bless 
you, my dear Mary, and your truly attached friend, 

Sara Coleridge. 

Note. — Bertha Fanny Coleridge was born on the 13th of July 1840, and 
died eleven days afterwards. — E. C. 


" They sin who tell us love can die." 

To her Husband. 

The Green, Hampstead, September 13th, 1840. — Will 
death at one blow crush into endless ruin all our mental 
growths as an autumnal tempest prostrates the frail 
summer house, along with its whole complexity of 
interwoven boughs and tendrils, which had gradually 
grown up during a long season of quiet and serenity ? 
Surely there will be a second spring when these firm 
and profuse growths shall flourish again, but with 

irth and Heaven. 245 

Elysian verdure, and all around them the celestial mead 
shall bloom with plants of various sizes, down to the 
tenderest and smallest shrublet that ever pushed up its 
infant I in this earthly soil. Surely every one who 

has a heart must feel how easily he could part with 
earth, water, and skies, and all the outward glories of 
nature; but how utterly impossible it is to reconcile the 
mind to the prospect of the extinction of our earthly 
affections, that such a heart-annihilation has all the 
»om of an eternal ceasing to be. 


A Sunset Landscape. 
To the Same. 

tober 14///, 1840. — I was thinking lately of my days 

spent in the prime of childhood at Greta Hall. How 

differently all things then looked from what they now 

This world more substantial, more bright, and 

iied in s eeming ly fast colours, and yet though these 
colours have waxen cold and water}-, and have a flitting 
evanescent hue upon them: to change my present mind- 
scene for that one, rich as it was, would be a sinking 
into a lower stage of existence; for now, while that 
which was so bright is dimmer, wholly new features 
have come forth in the landscape, features that connect 
this earth " with the quiet of the sky," and are invested 
in a solid splendour which more evidently joins in with 
the glories of the heavens. The softened and subdued 
appearance of earth, with its pensh ning sadness, 

ionises well with the richer part of the prospect, and 

246 Memoir and Letters of Sara Coleridge. 

though in itself less joyous and radiant than it once was, 
now forms a fitting and lovely portion of the whole 
view, and throws the rest into relief as it steals more 
and more into shadow. 


The true Art of Life. 
To the Same. 

10 Chester Place, October 20th, 1840. — We ought 
indeed, my beloved husband, to be conscious of our 
blessings, for we are better off than all below us, per- 
haps than almost all above us. The great art in life, 
especially for persons of our age, who are leaving the 
vale of youth behind us, just lingering still perhaps in 
the latter stage of it, and seeing the bright golden fields 
at the entrance of it more distinctly than those nearer 
to our present station, is to cultivate the love of doing 
good and promoting the interests of others, avoiding at 
the same time the error of those who make a worldly 
business and a matter of pride of pursuits which origi- 
nated in pure intentions, and bustle away in this secular 
religious path, with as little real thought of the high 
prize at which they should aim, and as little growth in 
heavenliness and change from glory to glory, as if they 
served mammon more directly. Anything rather than 
undergo the mental labour of real self-examination, of 
the study, not of individual self, but of the characters of 
our higher being which we share with all men. For one 
man that thinks, with a view to practical excellence, we 
may find fifty who are ready to act on what they call 
their own thoughts, but which they have unconsciously 
received from others. 



Letters to her Husband. Mrs Hummer, Mrs Thomas Farrer, Miss 
Trevenen, Mrs H. M. Jones, the Rev. Henry Moore, the Hon. 
Mr Justice Coleridge. 


Necessity of Patience and Hope in Education. 

April 1841. — Patience is the most important of all 
qualifications for a teacher; and the longer one has to 
do with managing young persons, or indeed person 
any sort or kind, the more one feels its value and in- 
dispensability. It is that resource which we constantly 
have to fall back upon when all else seems to fail, and 
our various devices, and ways, and means, and in- 
genuities give way one after another, and seem almost 
good for nothing but to preach about. By patience I 
do not mean that worthless substitute for it which 
hirelings (in temper, for a paid governess is often a 
much better instructor than a mama) sometimes make 
if, a compound of oil and white-lead, as like putty 
as possible. With patience, hope too must keep com- 
pair the most effective of teachers are those who 

the arts of encou piriting 

— spurring onward and sustaining at the same time — 
both lightening the load as much as may be, and 
stimulating the youngsters to trot on with it gallantly. 


The Lake Poets on Sport — The Life of Wesley a wonderful Book. 

To her Husband. 

Chester Place, October l$tk } 1841. — Southey and 

250 Memoir and Letters of Sara Coleridge. 

Wordsworth loved scenery, and took an interest in 
animals of all sorts ; but not one could they have 
borne to kill ; and S. T. C. was much of the same mind, 
though he would have made more allowance for the 
spirit of the chase than the other two. W 's " Hart- 
leap Well" displays feelings of high refinement. Doubt- 
less there is a sort of barbarism in this love of massacre 
which still keeps a corner even in cultivated minds, but 
which the progress of cultivation must tend to dissipate, 
and perhaps with it some habits that for some persons 
are more good than evil. Notwithstanding " Hartleap 
Well," Wordsworth always defended angling, and so did 
Dora ; but the Southeys, from the greatest to the least, 

gave no quarter to any slaughterous amusement 

What a biography the life of Wesley is ! What 
wonders of the human mind does it reveal, more espe- 
cially in the mental histories of Wesley's friends and 
co-adjutors ! 


Coolness of unimaginative People— Imagination, like Religion, 
" requires looking after." 

To the Same. 

iSt/i Oct. 1 84 1. — There is a great coolness about the 

minds of the C 's, though they have a quantum suff. 

of heart about them. The reason of this calmness of 
their's is, that though persons of good sense, they have 
no vividness or activity of imagination ; things are not 
multiplied, heightened, and deepened to them by this 

Th ick Languag 25 1 

mirror in the back part of the mind. " A great deal of 
religion," said old Fisher of Borodale, "requires a great 
dea oking after.'' There is So much acuteness and 

keen truth in this observation that I do not believe it 
original, but a popular saying. So we ma)- say of 
imagination, the more a man has, the more sense and 
firmness he needs to keep it in order. An excitable 
imagination, united with a weak intellect and a want of 
force of character, is a plague both to the possessor and 
his friends. 


Inflexibility of the French Language — The Second Part of Faust ; 
its Beauties and Defects — Visionary Hopes. 

To the Same. 

Cluster Place, I 19///, 1841. — I feel more than 
ever the inflexibility and fixedness of the French lan- 
guage, which will not give like English and German. It 
has few words tor sound::, — such as clattering, clanking, 
hanging, &c, — whereas the Germans are still richer than 
we in such. Derwent wanted, when here, to point out to 
me some of the beauties of the fifth Act of the second 
part of Faust, which, in point of vocabulary, and metri- 
cal variety and power, is, I do suppose, a most wonder- 
ful phenomenon. Goethe, with the German language, is 
like a first-rate musician with a musical instrument, 
which, under his hand, reveals a treasure of sound such 
as an ordinary person might play for ever without dis- 
covering. D has a most keen sense of this sort of 

252 Memoir and Letters of Sara Coleridge. 

power and merit in a poet, and his remarks were inter- 
esting, and would have been more so if the book had 
been at hand. He gives up the general intention of the 
piece, which he considers a failure, — the philosophy con- 
fused, unsound, and not truly profound. The execution 
of parts he thinks marvellous ; and as the pouring forth 

of an old man of 84, a psychological curiosity 

Your delightful letter and the after-written note both 
arrived at once. Your account of yourself is not worse, 
and that is the best that can be said of it. The lane is 
long indeed ; we could little have thought of all its 
turnings and windings when we first entered it ; but I 
still trust that it will issue out into Beautiful Meadows 
at last. 


Reminiscences of a Tour in Belgium — Hemling's " Marriage of 

St Catherine" at Bruges ; and Van Eyck's "Adoration of the 

Lamb " at Ghent — Devotional Gravity of the early Flemish 

Painters ; and human Pathos of Rubens — Works of that 

-ter, at Antwerp and Mechlin. 

To Miss E. TREVENEN, Helston. 

Chester Place, October 2jth 1841. — Ostend is interest- 
ing merely from old recollections, especially military 
ones, and because it is foreign ; not so Bruges, which I 
think the most perfect jewel of a town I ever saw, and 
how completely is the spirit of the place transfused into 
my Uncle Southey's interesting poem " The Pilgrimage 
to Waterloo." Here we visited the Hospital of St 

B md Ghent. 2 53 

John, saw the sisters tending the sick, and studied the 
beautiful and curious works of Hemling in the adjoin- 
ing parlour. Do you remember the "Marriage of St 

Catherine," with its beautiful back-ground of vivid 
reen, and that exquisitely delicate and youthful 
neck of the bride Saint, shaded with such transparent 
gauze. Mr Milnes (whom we met at Ghent on our 
return) specially admired Herodias' Daughter in the 
shutter of this picture. He said she looked at the 
bloody head in the charger so expressively, just as if she- 
could not turn her fascinated eyes from it, and yet 
shuddered at it. The cathedral is large and impressive, 
and contains a noble statue of Moses, — more like a 
Jupiter Tonans, however, than the Hebrew Legislator. 
At Ghent I visited St Bavon's; what a superb cathedral 
it is, with its numerous chapels clustered round the 
nave! I do indeed remember that paradisiacal picture 
of the "Adoration of the Lamb," with its velvety green 
lawn, and hillocks, and luxuriant rose-bushes. It is 
said that these zl ! pasters first opened the way to the 
Italian school of landscape-painting, by the back- 
grounds of their pictures. There is a very peculiar air 
about them, an imaginativeness combined with life- 
like everv-day reality, and a minuteness of detail which 
interferes with anything like intense passion, but not 
with a sober, musing sort of emotion. A deeply religious 
character is impressed upon these pictures, and there is 
a mild and chastened wildness about them, (if the seem- 
ing contradiction may be ventured on) which is very 
interesting, and specially suits some moods of the de- 

254 Memoir and Letters of Sara Coleridge. 

votional mind. I think it is well, however, that the 
traveller for the most part sees these old paintings 
before he is introduced to those of Rubens ; the fire, life, 
movement, and abandon of his pictures quite unfit one, 
for a time, for the sedater excellencies of Hemling and 
Van Eyck. The " Descent from the Cross " is, perhaps, 
the finest and most beautiful of all that great master's 
performances ; but no picture that I have ever seen 
(except in another line, the Sebastiano in our National 
Gallery) ever affected me so strongly as Rubens "Christ 
Crucified betwixt the Thieves," in the Antwerp museum. 
That is really a tremendous picture; in the expression of 
vehement emotion, in passion, life, and movement, I 
think it exceeds any other piece I ever beheld. How 
tame and over-fine Vandyck shews beside Rubens ! I 
cannot greatly admire him as an historical painter, 
especially on sacred subjects. He should always have 
been employed on delicate fine gentlemen and ladies, 
and folks about court. Some of his Maries and Mag- 
dalens are most graceful and elegant creatures ; but 
Rubens' youthful Magdalen at the foot of the Cross, 
imploring the soldier not to pierce the Saviour's side, 
moves one a thousand times more than all his lady-like 
beauties. However, I do not maintain, deep as is my 
admiration of Rubens, that his pictures thoroughly sat- 
isfy a religious mood of mind. They are somewhat 
over-bold ; they almost unhallow the subject by bring- 
ing it so home, and exciting such strong earthly passion 
in connection with it. No sacred picture ever thoroughly 
satisfied me except the Raising of Lazarus, by Sebastian 

Antwerp and Mechlin. 255 

del Piombo and Michel Angelo. The pictures at the 
Antwerp museum, I believe, you did not see; but were 
you not charmed with those at Mechlin ? What a 
delicately brilliant piece is the "Adoration of the 

• St John's Church, with its beautiful shutters 
especially! and "St John at Patmos," with that noblest 
ver his head. Rubens ranked this among his 
finest productions. "The Miraculous Draught," too, in 
the Church of Notre Dame, painted for the Fisherman's 
Company, how splendid it is! And that volet a droite 
"Tobias and the Angel," is the loveliest of all Rubens' 
shutter-pictures. What "colours of the showery arch" 
are there! What delicate aerial lilacs and yellows, 
softening off the scarlet and crimson glow of the centre- 


I 'raver for the Dead. 
To Mrs J. r. 

Chester Place. January 12///, 1S42. — Some long to 
pray for their departed friends. How far better is it to 
feel that they need not our prayers ; that we had best 
pray for ourselves and our surviving dear ones, that we 
ma)- be where we humbly trust they are ! 


A Visit to Oxford. 
To Mrs Thomas Farrer, 3 Gloucester Terrace, Regent's Park. 
Chester Place, Paster, 1842. — Yesterday Mr Coleridge 

256 Memoir and Letters of Sara Coleridge. 

and I returned from a very interesting excursion to 
Oxford. When I was in the midst of those venerable 
structures, I longed for strength to enter every chapel 
and explore the whole assemblage of antique buildings 
thoroughly. As it is, I have filled up the indistinct 
outline of imagined, but unseen Oxford most richly. 
Magdalen Chapel, as a single object, is what pleased 
me the most, but the merit of Oxford, and its power over 
the feelings, lies in what it presents to the visitor collec- 
tively, the vast number of antique buildings which it 
presents to the eye, and of interesting associations which 
it brings into the mind. 


Illness of her Husband, and Death of his only Sister. 

10 Chester Place, Dec. yth, 1842.- — My dearest Louisa, 
— Little did I think when I received your last but one 
letter, that I should be thus long ere I communicated 
with the writer, and little did I think (and this was in 
mercy) what trials were to come upon me before I re- 
newed my intercourse with you. I well remember 
beginning a letter to you soon after I received yours — 
explaining some of my theological views, about Romish 
saints, or something of the sort — (you may remember 
our old theological discussions). Something prevented 
me from finishing it and sending it off; week after week 
went on and the begun letter remained a beginning. 
Then commenced a new era with me of sorrow, and 

Her Husband's Illness. 2 ~ 7 

I humbly trust of purification. When these troubles 
began, I became reserved in writing to my friends, not 
from closeness of heart, but because I could not afford 
to expend my mental strength and spirits in giving 
accounts to them of my anxieties and troubles; it was 
a prime necessity to keep all my stock within me. It is 
a bad plan, however, to put off writing to a friend from 
month to month, till we feel that only a very long and 
excellent letter can be fit to make up for such a silence, 
must excuse a very poor one from me now, dear 
friend, not proportioned, I assure you, to my interest in 
you, and wish that you should continue to feel an 
interest in me and mine, but to my present epistolary 
powers. I heard with great pleasure from dear E. that you 
had been thinking much of my husband's prostration, and 
with friendly sympathy ; on the whole he has through- 
out this trying dispensation been wonderfully supported 
in mind. He has ever been as hopeful as anyone under 
the circumstances could be, and he is quiet and resigned, 
and derives great, comfort from devotional reading, from 
prayer, and religious ministrations. Our eldest brother 
has been a great soother and supporter to him during 
the most alarming and suffering part of his illness. J.'s 
company and conversation have been a constant bless- 
ing, and, indeed, all his family have shewn him the 
tenderest affection during his illness. The bonds that 
unite us have been drawn closer by this trial of ours, 
than ever before. Alas ! one of our circle, who has for 
years been the centre of it, to which all our hearts were 

most strongly drawn, is removed. O L ! her's was 

I K 

258 Memoir and Letters of Sara Coleridge. 

the death-bed of a Christian indeed. No one could die as 
she did, who had not made long and ample preparation 
beforehand. She foresaw the present termination of her 
illness, when the rest of us were flattering ourselves with 
vain hopes that she would live down her wasting malady, 
and see a green old age. Keenly sensible as she was of 
the blessing of her lot in this world, and no one could 
enjoy more than she did those temporal blessings — a 
good husband, honoured among men, very promising, 
affectionate children, easy circumstances, and if least, 
yet to her not little, a charming country residence in her 
beloved native county — she yet cast not one longing, 
lingering look behind, when called to quit all and go to 
the Saviour. So strong was her wish to depart and be 
with Christ, that she even was not diverted from it by 
her tender love for her husband and children — which to 
me, who know her heart toward them, is really mar- 
vellous. Great must have been her faith to realize, as 
she did, the unseen world.* Her death-bed reminds 
me of the last days of one — a very different person 
from her in many respects — my dear father. He had 
just the same strong, steadfast faith — the same longing 
to leave this world for a better, the same collectedness of 
mind during his last illness. He retained his intellectual 
powers to the last moment of his waking existence, but 

* This lamented relative, both cousin and sister-in-law, between whom 
and my mother there always existed a most tender affection, was the 
daughter of James Coleridge, Esq., of Heath's Court, Ottery St Mary, 
and wife of the Hon. Mr Justice Patteson. She died in November 1S42, 
at Eeniton Court, near Iloniton. — E. C. 

Heath of Lady Patteson. 259 

was in a coma for some hours before life was extinct. 
She was unconscious during the last tw r o hours, and, for 
some time previously, it was only conjectured that she 
heard and joined in the prayers offered at her bed-side. 


On the Same Topics — Religious Bigotry. 

To the Rev. HENRY Moore,* Eccleshall Vicarage, Staffordshire. 
10 Chester Place, Dec. 1842. — My dear Mr Moore — I 
inclose to you my brother James' account of the last 
days and hours of our most beloved sister Fanny. I [er 
call hence to what we cannot doubt will be to her an 
unspeakably better world, has left a blank in our circle 
which I cannot describe. The event has long b 
anticipated. She herself has looked forward to it for 
some time; but *!iere is a gulf between the real actual 
things and thee kinds of conjectural anticipations, the 
th of which we find when all is over. She was a 
most impressive, influencive person. There was a 
strength of mind (not intellect, though she was clever) 
in her which would have approached to sternness but 
for her loving, tender disposition. She was the deepest- 
hearted creature! Henry has not been Worsened in 
by this affliction. Invalids often bear these shocks 
better than persons in health. 

We were amused by your account of the Puritanical 
* At present Archdeacon of Lichfield. — E. C. 

260 Memoir and Lellers of Sara Coleridge. 

Archdeacon. Religious bigotry is a dull fire — hot 
enough to roast an ox, but with no lambent, luminous 
flame shooting up from it. The bigots of one school 
condemn and, what is far worse, mutilate Shakespeare ; 
those of another would, if they could, extinguish Milton. 
Thus the twin-tops of our Parnassus would be hidden 
in clouds for ever, had these men their way. — Believe 
me, ever faithfully yours, SARA COLERIDGE. 

Henry desires his kindest regards to you, and wished 
this letter to be written. 


" Hope deferred " — Her Son at Eton. 

To Mrs Henry M. Jones, Hampstead. 

December 1842. — I try to think of that better abode 
in which we may meet each other, free from those ills 
which flesh is heir to. We have a special need to look 
and long for the time when we may be clothed upon 
" with our house which is from heaven ; " for in this 
tabernacle we do indeed groan, " being burdened." 
Bodily weakness and disorder have been the great (and 
only) drawbacks, ever since we met twenty years ago, 
to our happiness in each other. It will seem chimerical 
to you that I have not yet abandoned all hope. But 
this faint hope, which perhaps, however, is stronger 
than I imagine, does not render me unprepared for 
what all around me expect. The Lord has given ; and 
when He takes away, I can resign him to his Father 

Her Husband's Last Days. 261 

in heaven ; and looking in that direction in which he 
will have gone, I shall be able to have that peace and 
comfort which in no shape then will the world be able 
to give me. 

To-day I attended the Holy Communion. To be 
away so long from my beloved husband was a great 
trial to me (of course I did not attend the morning 
service) ; but I knew he greatly wished it, and I made 
an effort to satisfy him. It requires no great prepara- 
tion for one who leaves the room of severe sickness 
where all things point to a spiritual world — partly here 
around us, partly to come. 

You will be pleased, dear friend, to learn that Her- 
bert has taken a good place in " trials " at Eton. Out 
of seventy boys, he had a 12th place assigned him in 
the 5th form — the nighest but one, boys much older 
being down at y , 39, and so forth. 



To the Hon. Mr Justice Coleridge,* 4 Montague Place, London. 

January 1843. — I nou ' feel quite hap}))-, or, at least, 
satisfied. Could I arrest his progress to a better sphere 
of existence by a prayer, I would not utter it. When I 
once know that it is God's will, I can feel that it is 

* My father's elder brother, now Right Ilon^le. Sir John T. Coleridge, 
Member of the Privy Council. — E.C. 

262 Memoir and Letters of Sara Coleridge. 

right, even if there were no such definite assurances of 
rest and felicity beyond this world. I cannot be too 
thankful to God, so far as my own best interests are 
concerned, that He is thus removing from earth to 
heaven my greatest treasure, while I have strength and 
probably time to benefit by the measure, and learn to 
look habitually above ; which now will not be the spirit 
against the flesh, but both pulling one way, for the heart 
will follow the treasure. Thus graciously does the 
Blessed Jesus condescend to our infirmities, by earthly 
things leading us to heavenly ones. 

1 843 (continued.) 

Letters to her Son, her Eldest Brother, Mrs Gillman, Mrs J. 
Stanger, Hon. Mr Justice Coleridge, Rev. Henry Moore, 
Edward Quillinan, Esq., Mrs Thomas Farrer, Miss Morris, 
Mrs H. M. Jones. 


To her Son.* 

'nuary 26///, 1 843. — My dear Boy — My most be- 
loved and honoured husband, your excellent father, is 
no more in this world, but I humbly trust in a far 
better. May we all go where he is, prepared to meet 
him as he would have us ! God bless you ! Live as 
your beloved father would have you live. Put your 
trust in God, and think of heaven, as he would wish 

May we all meet above! May we all join with him 
the Communion of Saints, and be for ever with the 
Blessed Jesus! Your good uncle James was with me 
at the ! ' 

I make an effort to write to you, my dear boy, from 
beside the remains of the dear, blessed, departed one. 
For yob aione could I do this ; but it is due to his son, 
our child. — Your loving mother, 

Sara Coleridge. 


Her Husband's Death — First meeting with him at Highgate. 

To Mrs GlLLMAN. 

February, 1S43. — My dearest Mrs Gillman, — You have 
ere now, I trust, received an announcement of my loss, 

* Written by my mother to my brother at Eton, on the day of my 
father'* death— E. C. 

266 Memoir and Letters of Sara Coleridge. 

of which I cannot now speak. My sorrow is not greater 
than I can bear, for God has mercifully fitted it to my 
strength. While I was losing my great earthly happi- 
ness, I was gradually enabled to see heaven more and 
more clearly, to be content to part with earthly happi- 
ness, and to receive, as a more than substitute, a stronger 
sense of that which is permanent. I should have de- 
ferred writing thus to you, dear friend, till I was stronger ; 
but I think it right to tell you that, at my strong desire, 
the remains of my beloved husband are to be deposited 
in Highgate Churchyard, in the same precinct with 
those of my revered father. 

It was at Highgate, at your house, that I first saw 
my beloved Henry. Since then, now twenty years 
ago, no two beings could be more intimately united in 
heart and thoughts than we have been, or could have 
been more intermingled with each other in daily and 
hourly life. He concerned himself in all my feminine 
domestic occupations, and admitted me into close inter- 
course with him in all his higher spiritual and intellectual 
life. It has pleased God to dissolve this close tie, to cut 
it gradually and painfully asunder, and yet, till the last 
fatal stroke, to draw it even closer in some respects than 
before. — God bless you, my dear friend. I am ever 
your truly affectionate and respectful 

Sara Coleridge. 

Friends and Brothers. 267 


On the same Subject— Trial of a Mourner's Faith, and how it was 


To the Rev. H. Moore. 

February l$th t 1843, Chester Place. — My dear Friend, 
— Letter writing is improper for me now, but I must pen 
two or three lines to thank you for your last letter, and 
to tell you that I accept, from my heart, all your offers 
of friendship to me and mine. When I call your letter 
" most brotherly," with such brothers as I have, it is the 
strongest epithet I can use. You loved, you still love 
and understand and value my departed Henry; this 
:ld for ever make me a friend to you, even if you 
Iiad not expressed yourself so kindly, as you have ever 
done, to me, and if we had not another thought, or inte- 
or sympathy in common. 

I must add but a line or two more, for I am suffering 
very sadly from a nervous cough, which scarce leaves 
me a minute's peace night or day, except for a (c\v hours 
in the middle of the twenty-four, when I am least weak. 
I caught a violent cold in attending on my husband on 
the Sunday and Wednesday nights of his final trial ; 
but the weak and relaxed state into which I immediately 
sank as soon as the last call for exertion was over, has 
more to do with my present suffering (the medical man 
thinks) than this exposure. Had I strength, I could tell 
you much that would interest you deeply of Henry's 
last days and months. His energy, while his poor, dear, 
outward man was half dead, was one of the most strik- 

268 Memoir and Letters of Sara Coleridge. 

ing instances of the mind's independence of the body that 
can well be imagined. But oh ! dear Mr Moore, when 
I backward cast my eye, or rather when it reverts of 
itself, to the various scenes of his last illness, I feel that 
I have an ocean of natural tears yet to shed. At the 
time (except during the last fortnight), I but half felt 
the deep sadness, because I looked upon all his bitter 
sufferings as painful steps in the way to comparatively 
easy health, and felt as if every one of them was so 
much misery out of the way. Now that delirium, stu- 
por, death are at the end of them, they have a different 
aspect. There is a comfort (I am speaking now of mere 
human feelings) in thinking that the anguish I have 
gone through, which will be merged, I humbly trust, be- 
fore I go hence, in that peace which the world cannot 
give, is probably the heaviest part of my earthly portion, 
or that it must have seasoned me to bear well what 
remains behind. 

But in this mingled cup there are other sorrows of a 
still deeper kind ; for physical evil is not evil in the most 
real sense. The separation is a fearful wrench from one 
for whom, and in expectation of whose smile, I might 
almost say, I have done all things, even to the choice of 
the least'articles of my outward apparel, for twenty years. 
But even that is not the heaviest side of the dispensa- 
tion. It is to feel, not merely that he is taken from me, 
but that, as appears, though it is but appearance, he is not. 
That the sun rises in the morning, and he does not see it. 
The higher and better and enduring mind within us 
has no concern with these sensations, but they will arise, 

" Behind the Veil." 269 

and have a certain force. While we remain in the 
tabernacle of the flesh, they are the miserable, cloggy 
vapours that from time to time keep steaming up from 
the floor and the walls, and obscure the prospect of the 
clear empyrean which may be seen from the windows. 
The most effective relief from them which I have found, 
is the reminding myself that he who is past from my 
sight is gone whither I myself look to go in a few years 
(not to mention all those of whom the world was not 
worth}-, before the publication of the Gospel, and since), 
and that if I can contemplate my own removal, not 
with mere calmness, but with a cheerfulness which no 
other thought bestows, why should I feel sad that he is 
there before me ? But these of which I have spoken 
are (jnl)- the sensations of the natural man and woman. 
I well know in my heart of hearts and better mind, that 
if he is not now in the Bosom of God, who is not the 
God of the dead, but of the living, or if all these hopes 
are but dreams, I can have but little wish to bring him 
back to earth again, or to care about anything either in 
earth or heaven. In my weakest moments, indeed, I 
have never wished that it were possible to recall him, or 
to prevent his departure hence. I thank God and the 
power <jf His grace, there has been no agony in my grief, 
there has been no struggle of my soul with Him. I 
have always had such a strong sense and conviction that 
if this sorrow was to be, and was appointed by God, it 
was entirely right, and that it was mere senselessness to 
wish anything otherwise than as infinite goodness and 
infinite wisdom had ordained it. Forgive so much about 

2 jo Memoir and Letters of Sara Coleridge. 

my own feelings. Give my very kind regards to Mrs 
M., and respects to Miss H., and believe me ever your 
affectionate friend, SARA COLERIDGE. 


Affectionate Kindness of Relatives and Friends — Special Gifts of 
a Christian Minister, in his Attendance upon the Sick and 

To Hartley Coleridge, Esq., Grasmere. 

IO Chester Place, Marchtyh, 1843. — My dear Brother — 
I have long been wishing to renew my suspended inter- 
course with you. To do this requires some resolution, 
after all that has passed since I last wrote to you. 
When I have thought of taking up my pen to address 
you, a crowd of strong emotions and deeply concerning 
thoughts and remembrances have rushed upon me, 
pressing for utterance, and my spirits have sunk under 
the eagerness and intenseness of their requisitions. It 
is not because I anticipated an inadequate sympathy 
from you that I have felt thus, but from the very con- 
trary. I have been answering kind and tender letters 
from persons less near and dear to me, who could not 
and ought not to feel for me as I am sure you have 
done, with comparative — I will not say calmness — (for 
since all uncertainty was removed, and my loss pre- 
sented itself to me as fixed and inevitable, I have been 

7/r ■; • Berea i demerit. 2 7 l 

more deeply calm in spirit than ever I was before in my 
life) — but with comparative lightness of feeling. Now, 
however, I take the first step of renewing a correspon- 
dence with you, which I hope will be cheerfully con- 
tinued with pleasure and benefit to us both (if I may so 
;ime and presume) to the end of our lives. It is 
better to write little and often, than much at a time, 
and in this way, without formally asking your advice, 
which in a woman of my years is for the most part a 
mere form, I shall learn your views and feelings on 
many interesting subjects, and be, I humbly trust, 
improved and strengthened thereby. The great moulder 
of my mind, who was, perhaps, more especially fitted 
to strengthen my weak points and supply my deficiencies 
and altogether to keep my mind straight and even, than 
any other man or woman living, is gone where I cannot 
come, — removed out of the sphere of my human under- 
standing, — though not, I trust, out of spiritual com- 
munion both with me and all who are, or seek to be, in 
any vital sense Christians. On this account I have the 
more need to make much of the friendship of my 
brothers, — and no widow, I think, when withdrawn 
from the arms of a husband, can ever have been more 
affectionately sustained by those of brothers than I have 
been. The sadder my prospect grew, the more closely 
they circled round me ; but a thousand times dearer to 
my heart than their kindness to me were the proofs they 
gave of affection, respect, and admiration for him who 
was soon to be taken away from our mortal sight. The 
expressions of dear John and of Frank were especially 

272 Memoir and Letters of Sara Coleridge. 

affecting. Of James* you have doubtless heard what he 
was to me through all the last scenes of my trial. Upon 
this so important occasion, I found a brother — I may 
say an individual man— in him, whom before I knew 
not. I now saw for the first time what was the secret 
of his influence and popularity in his own pastoral 
sphere. He appears by the bed of sickness and coming 
death (and he could not so appear unless his heart were 
interested) entirely forgetful of self, absorbed in what 
is before him. His own opinions, habits of mind, private 
interests, seem gone, to a degree which strikes a by- 
stander, like myself as unusual. Then, in performing 
his professional part, he is the more effective from the 
absence of the intellectual in his mode of thought. There 
is nothing theological about James. From him you 
have the pure spirit of Gospel consolation and assur- 
ance — conditionally expressed — as it is in the Bible 
itself, with as little mixture of foreign matter as possible. 
This is not art in him, or knowledge. It is the result 
of the simple, though not weak, character of his intel- 
lect. He does not reason on one side or the other, but 
lets the moral and spiritual content of the inspired 
Book produce its own effect upon his mind, and find its 
own suitable utterance. His countenance and tone of 
voice are highly affecting and impressive, when he is 
thus seen in his best attitude of mind. Frank seemed 
gratified by my evident appreciation of his brother. But 
I cannot thus speak of them without mentioning dear 

* Dr Coleridge, Vicar of Thorverton, near Exeter, was my father's 
eldest brother. — E. C. 

Memoir of Nicholas Ferrer. 273 

Edward* and Derwent too. Both in their several ways 

have been most soothing and helpful to me. . . My 
children are both going on well. Herbert is very well 
reported of from school, where his character for general 
cleverness continues ; though he fails in verse composi- 
tion, and in other more essential points, I feel hopeful 
and happy about him. His letters to his sister are an 
amusing mixture of pure childishness, childish pedantry, 
and affectionate ruffianism. . . . — Believe me, my 
dear Hartley, your much attached sister, 

Sara Coleridge. 


Memoir of Nicholas Ferrer. 

To the Hon. Mr Justice COLERIDGE. 

March 11///. 1843.-—I am reading a very interesting 
Memoir of Nicholas Ferrer,+ who lived in the times of 
James I. and Charles I. Were it not for certain expres- 
sions on the subject of grace, which clearly shew that 
the writer is no disciple of Fuse)', one might suppose it 
a publication of the Oxford School, — the sentiments, 
and some of the principles which it illustrates, being 

* The Rev. Edward Coleridge, Rector of Mapledurham, my father's 
younger brother. — E.C. 

t The friend of George Herbert, and editor of his Poems. Izaak Wal- 
ton, in his Life of Herbert, gives a striking account of this remarkable 
man, who founded a Christian Society at Giddon Hall, Huntingdon, for 
purposes of devotion and charity, in accordance with the principles of the 
Church. — E. C. 

I S 

274 Memoir and Letters of Sara Coleridge. 

just such as Paget seeks to recommend by his amusing 
Tales. Without intended disparagement to Paget, how 
great is the superiority of the narrative to the fiction as a 
vehicle of truth ! — the one bears something the same 
relation to the other, when carefully criticised, as the 
piece of linen or lace, viewed through a microscope, to 
the natural leaf or slip of wood examined in the same 


A Quiet Heart. 

To the Hon. Mr Justice Coleridge. 

March 22nd, 1843. — • • • I chat away thus to you, 
my dear brother, as if I had a light gay heart, but I 
have only a quiet one. When I go out of doors from 
the incessant occupation of mind and hands, the full 
sense of my widowhood comes upon me, and the sun- 
shine only seems to draw it out into vividness. Hamp- 
stead is a sadder place to me than Highgate. Yet sad- 
ness is not quite the word for my feelings, — that seems 
too near to unhappiness. When I hear of happy mar- 
riages now, I do not feel that wretched sense of contrast 
with my own solitary state which I should once have felt. 
I rather feel a sort of compassionate tenderness for those 
who are entering on a career of earthly enjoyment, the 
transitoriness of which they must sooner or later be 
brought to a sense of. But for them, as for myself, 
there is a better communion beyond this present world, 

Recumbent Statu :~~ 

which, if begun here, will in the end supersede all other 
blessedness arising from union with objects of love. 


Monument of Robert Southey — Recumbent Statues. 

To the Hon. Mr Justice COLERIDGE. 

March 2%th % 1843. — I scarce know what is finally settled 
about my uncle's monument A modification of Lough's 
design seems most approved. The recumbent figure is all 
right in theory but awkward in practice. Do what you will 
it looks death\-. with too real and actual a deathiness. 
This is one of the instances. I think, of the difficulty of 
reviving old fashions ; if you alter them at all, or even 
take them from amid the circumstances and states of 
feeling among which they were originated, you ha\ 
spectre of the past rather than the living past itself, a 
kind of resurrection. The recumbent figures on the old 
tombs are rather death idealised than death itself. The 
armour veiled from view the lifelessness of the limbs, 
and brought the body, as by a medium, into harmony 
with the sepulchral stone. The full robe of the dame by 
the warrior's side did the same thing in another way, and 
contrasted well with the male attire ; and that one atti- 
tude of the hands crossed upon the breast, or pressed 
ther in prayer, alone perfectly agrees with the 
whole design. The brasses are not open to these 
remarks, because the)- are much further removed from 

276 Memoir and Letters of Sara Coleridge. 

life, and therefore cannot offend by the semblance of 


On her Loss — Injury done to the Mind by brooding over Grief. 

To Mrs Plummer, Gateshead. 

10 Chester Place, April 2jth, 1843. — Your letter 
was very welcome to me, and I will thank you for 
it at once, though I cannot now write at all as I 
wish, either as to matter or manner, so much am I 
occupied, and so unequal am I to getting much done in 
a short time, from bodily weakness and sensitiveness of 

What you say, dearest, of your own particular grief in 
the loss that bears so heavily upon me, that but for 
very special mercy it must have crushed me to the 
earth, is extremely gratifying to me. Nothing soothes 
me so much as to hear his deserved praises, and to have 
assurances from his friends of the esteem and affection 
he excited. Few men have been ever more generally 
liked, or more dearly loved in a narrower sphere. Never 
before his illness did I fully know what a holy, what a 
blessed thing is the love of brothers and sisters to each 
other. By my bereavement all my relations seem to be 
brought closer to me than before, for pity excites affec- 
tion, and gratitude for kindness and sympathy has the 
same effect. But my beloved Henry's brothers are 
twice as much to me as in his precious lifetime. John is 
such a friend and supporter as few widows I think are 

An Active Mind. 277 

blest with. You will not, I am sure, dear friend, think 
me boastful, but grateful for saying all this. I feel it 
now such a duty, such a necessity, to cling fast to every 
source of comfort — to be for my children's sake as 
happy, as willing to live on in this heart-breaking world 
a- possible ; that I dwell on all the blessings which God 
continues to me, and has raised up to me out of the 
depths of affliction, with an earnestness of endeavour 
which is its own reward ; for so long as the heart and 
mind are full of movement, employed continually on 
not unworthy objects, there may be sorrow, but there 
cannot be despair. The stagnation of the spirit, the 
dull, motionless brooding on one miserable set of 
thoughts, is that against which in such cases as mine we 
must both strive and pray. After all, it would be 
impossible for one bereaved like me, to care for the 
goings on of this world but for the blessed prospect of 
another ; and it is a most thankworthy circumstance 
that the more agitating our trials become, the brighter 
that prospect, after a little while, beams forth, through 
the reaction of the mind when strongly excited. The 
heaviest hours come on after the subsidence of that 
excitement, when we come out again from the chamber 
of death and mourning into all the common ways of 
life. All the social intellectual enjoyments, new books, 
the sight of sculpture, painting, the conversation 
pleasant friends, are full of trial to me. I turn away 
from what excites any lively emotion of admiration or 
pleasure, now that I can no longer share it with him 
who for twenty years shared all my happiest thoug! 

2/8 Memoir and Letters of Sara Coleridge. 


God's Will the best Consolation. 

To Mrs Farrer. 

MaySth, 1843. — My dear Mrs Farrer — This morning I 
tiave received your letter, of the kindness of which I 
have not time to speak adequately. I feel very glad to 
be able to avail myself of your offer. Broadstairs I 
have often wished to visit. I was to have visited it 
with my beloved invalid, but God ordered things other- 
wise, doubtless better for us both. As my friend, Mr 
Frederic Maurice, truly says, in answer to some remarks 
of mine, there is more calmness in the thought, " It is 
God's will " than in all other consolations. I had been 
saying to him how impossible it is for any religious, 
reflective person to look back upon the bitterest dispen- 
sations of the Almighty Hand with a serious wish that 
they had never been awarded, that the web which 
Providence has woven could be unravelled, and all the 
good though trying gifts which our Father in heaven 
has bestowed, taken back again. Sorrow makes us 
very egotistic, and to those that understand not the 
house of mourning, very tedious and commonplace. But 
to those who are feeling deeply, or sympathising with 
those who feel, the sense of reality in the oft-expressed 
sentiment lends it freshness and force. 

Visit to Broadstairs. 279 


New Friends — A Happy Pair. 

To her Eldest Brother. 

Broadstairs, May 30///, 1843.— My dear Brother— 
This is my last day at Broadstairs. To-morrow I depart 
for Chester Place, after a fortnight spent here with my 
little Edith and our maid Elizabeth, at the temporary 
abode of Mrs Thomas Earrer, a lady whom I must rank 
aniong my friends, though not among my old acquaint- 
ance. My first introduction to her, not two years ago, 

through her son.-, favourite pupils of Edward C , 

whom I met at Eton, and who thereupon felt desirous 
that their family and mine should be on visiting terms, 
as we were already neighbours in Regent'.- Park. To 
this wish I acceded, though a little dismayed at that 
time, at the way in which the circle of our acquaintances 

beginning to widen. I have since, however, rejoiced 
that I did not withstand the proposal, having been 

greatly pleased with the clan of the F s, a large and 

very united one, so far as I have seen and come to 

know them. Mrs E 's eldest daughter, a very sweet 

and pretty girl of nineteen, is to be married next August 
to the heir of the X 's, a most amiable and pro- 
mising young man ; and I have taken pleasure in 
re-ting my eyes on the smooth true love course of this 
young couple, which appears to my fancy at present 
like the quietest of rivulets gliding along in the sun, 
with pretty wild flowers upon its banks. Plow will it 

280 Memoir and Letters of Sara Coleridge. 

run in that part of the region which is not yet in sight ? 
May it not break over rough stones, or become sud- 
denly lost underground, as mine has been ? These are 
questions which the sight naturally suggests, and which 
cast an air of melancholy over it, in spite of all its sun- 
shiny brightness, to the mind of the widow in her weeds. 
But the young pair, and even their friends at large, 

appear to see only the present sunshine. C 's lids 

are unsullied by a tear ; and long may the brown orbs 
under them (I have seen few so beautiful) beam darkly 
forth as now, full of calm happiness undimmed and 


Dryness of Controversial Sermons. 

To the Hon. Mr Justice COLERIDGE, Heath's Court, Ottery St. Mary. 

June 27th, 1843.— Dr Arnold's sermon is all you 
described it. Would that of this sort, so practical, and 
appealing to the heart and religious mind, were at least 
the majority of preacJied sermons ! Some doctrinizing 
from the pulpit may be necessary. But surely it ought 
to be subservient and subordinate to the practical ; 
whereas, nine times out of ten, the practical point 
merely serves as an introduction or a pretext for a 
setting up the opinions of one school of thinkers, and a 
pulling down the opinions of another, with charges 
against the latter almost always one-sided and unfair. 
This sermon of Dr A 's, and one which I heard from 

Essay an Rationalism. 281 

Dr Hodgson at Broadstairs on death and judgment, 
are quite oases in the hot sandy wilderness of sermons 
which my mind's reverted eye beholds. I do not mean 
that many of them were not good ; but when they are 
viewed altogether, a character of heat and barrenness 
seems to pervade them. 


Preliminary Essay to the "Aids to Reflection," by the Rev. James 
Marsh — Her " Essay on Rationalism* — Consolation and In- 
struction derived from Theological Studies. 

To the Hon. Mr Justice Coleridge. 

Chester Place, July 1843. — I am glad that you think 
Marsh's essay very good. My dear husband read it 
during his illness, and was confirmed in his high opinion 
of it. As to my own production, {much as I admire it 
myself!), I do not expect that it will be admired by any 
one else. It makes larger demands on the attention of 
readers than I, with my powers, have perhaps any right 
to make, or can repay. Even if the thinking were 
sound or important, the arrangement is bad. If bad 
arrangement in S. T. C. is injurious to readibility, in 
S. C it will be destructive. Moreover, I have made to 
myself no friends. A follower out of the principles of 
S. T. C. myself, whithersoever they lead me, because 
they seem to me the very truth, I cannot join hands 

* Appendix C to the second volume of the "Aids to Reflection," Sixth 

Edition. — E. C. 

282 Memoir and Letters of Sara Coleridge. 

with any of his half or quarter disciples. I praise, and 
admire, and applaud all the combatants on the theolo- 
gical arena, even the hearty opponents of my father, 
but I cannot entirely agree with any one of them ; and 
some of his friends have done him more harm, if such 
ephemeral harm were worth talking of, than his foes. 
Yet I should never regret the time spent on this little 
composition, though I should be rather out of pocket 
and not into reputation by it, as will certainly be the 
case ; for it has sometimes brought one part of my mind 
into activity, when the other part, if active, could only 
have been alive to anguish ; and it has given me a more 
animated intercourse with some great minds now past 
from our nether sphere, than I could have had from 
merely reading their thoughts, without thinking them 
over again myself. 


A Visit to Margate — Domestic Economy in its Right Place — An 
Eton Schoolboy— Reading under Difficulties — High Moral 
Aim of Carlyle's " Hero-worship" — Joy of a True Christian 
— The Logic of the Heart and the Logic of the Head. 

To Mrs Farrer. 

12 Cliff Terrace, Margate, Sept. $th, 1843. — My dear 
Friend — Here we are, my children, and nurse, and self, 
on the East Cliff at Margate, a few miles from the spot 
where I sojourned with you in June. That fortnight is 
marked among the fortnights of this my first year of 
widowhood with a comparative whiteness, in the midst 

Sea-side Housekeeping. 283 

of such deep (though never, I must thankfully acknow- 
ledge, never, even at the earliest period of my loss, quite 
unrelieved) blackness. 1 fixed upon this place, instead ( f 
adstairs or Ramsgate, on account of its greater 

cheapness, and because it could be reached with rather 
exertion. Lodgings certainly are cheaper than 1 
could have got them in an equally good situation at 
more genteel sea-bathing places ; but provisions are 
dear enough — lamb SjS^d, and beef yd. ! 1 am so often 
twitted with my devotion to intellectual things, that I 
am always glad of an opportunity of sporting a little 
beef and mutton erudition, though I cannot help think- 
ing that, as society is now constituted in the professional 
middle rank of life — still more in a higher one — women 
may get on and make their families comfortable, and 
manage with tolerable economy — by which 1 mean 
nomy that does not cost more than it is worth of 
time and devotion of spirit — with less knowledge of de- 
tails respecting what we are to eat, and what to put on, 
than used to be thought essential to the wise and 
worth)- matron. I daresay your dear C. will make her 
loved and honoured S. as comfortable as if she had 
been studying butchers' and bakers' bills, and mantua- 
making, and upholstery in a little way, for the last 
seven years, instead of reading Dante, and Goethe, and 
Richter, and Wordsworth, and Tennyson. But to re- 
turn to this place, it is a contrast to Broadstairs as 
looked out upon from the White Hart, where we took 
up our abode the first night ; but the East Cliff, where, 
by medical recommendation, we have settled ourselves 

284 Memoir and Letters of Sara Coleridge. 

for a fortnight or three weeks, is neither more nor less 
than the Broadstairs Cliffery continued ; and as we re- 
turn from the gully leading down to the sands (the 
very brother to that which I so often went down and 
up with you), Edy and I might almost fancy that we 
were returning to the Albion Street lodgings, if it were 
not for the tower of the handsome new church, where 
we attended morning service last Sunday, which re- 
minds us that we are at Margate. 

We were delayed in coming hither for some days by 
Herbert's prolonged stay at Rickmansworth, where he 
spent nearly three weeks in a sort of boys' paradise, 
bathing two or three times a-day. Both Baron and Lady 
A — wrote about him to me in very gratifying terms. 
It is perhaps not right to repeat things honourable to 
our children without being equally communicative 
about their faults and ill-successes. But you have 
been so specially friendly with me, and shown such 
kind interest about all that concerns me, that I think I 
should withhold a pleasure from you in not telling you 
what has very much pleased me. H. thinks this place 
very seedy, and despises the bathing. The tide seems 
never in a state to please him ; but the truth is, he 
wants companions, and does not like to be a solitary 
Triton among the minnows, or rather, as those are 
fresh-water fish, amon"- the crabs and seaweed. How- 
ever, he has got "Japhet in Search of a Father" from 
the circulating library, reads a portion daily of Euri- 
pides, and has begun learning French ; and it is quite 
right that a little seediness should come in its turn after 

The Passage Home. 285 


** jol lit\ ,"" and quietness and plain fare after " splendid 

lark,'' with " sock " of all sorts, that he may learn to cut 
out interests and amusements for himself out of home 

I must tell tales of the vessel that brought us hither, 
in order to deter you, dear friend, from ever trusting 
yourself to it in future. The "Prince of Wales" does 
certainly make its way fast over the water, but the 
vibration of its disproportionately small frame under the 
energy of its strong steam-engine is such, that it 
fatigued me much more than a slower voyage would 
have done, and gave both nurse and me a headache. 
The motion almost prevented me too from reading. 
Carlyle's " Hero-worship " trembled in my hand like a 
culprit before a judge ; and as the book is very full of 
paradoxes, and has some questionable matter in it, this 
shaking seemed rather symbolical. But oh ! it is a 
book fit rather to shake (take it all in all) than to be 
shaken. It is very full of noble sentiments and wise 
reflections, and throws out many a suggestion which 
will not waste itself like a blast blown in a wilderness, 
but will surely rouse many a heart and mind to a right, 
Christian-like way of acting and of dealing with the 
gifted and godlike in man and of men. Miss Fairer 
lent me the work, and many others. Very pleasant 
to me was her stay at Gloucester Terrace, if pleasant is 
a fit word for an intercourse which awakened thoughts 
and feelings of " higher gladness " than are commonly 
so described. She is one who loves to reveal her mind, 
with all its " open secrets," to those who care at all for 

286 Memoir and Letters of Sara Coleridge. 

the one thing which is, and which she happily has found 
to be, needful ; and few indeed are the minds which will 
so well bear such inspection as she invites ; few can dis- 
play such a pure depth of sunny blue without a cloud, 
such love for all men, and Christ above all — ascending 
from them whom she has seen to God whom she has 
not seen, and again honouring them and doing good to 
them, on principle, for His sake. My doctrinal differ- 
ences from her (and some doctrine we all must have in 
this world) are considerable ; but I could almost say, 
that were all men like her, no Christian doctriiie would 
be needed. She has much knowledge, too, of men and 
things — has read and seen much ; and pray tell your 
T. H. that I learned to thread the at first bewildering 
labyrinth of her discourse, after a while, much better 
than at first. Even to the last her rapid transitions 
confounded me very often, and some of her replies to 
objections are rather appeals to the imagination and 
affections than properly answers. But she has a logic 
of her own ; and though I do maintain that Christen- 
dom would fall abroad if it were not knit together by 
a logic of another sort, the want of which would be felt 
sorely, if it were possible that it could ever be wholly 
wanting, which the nature of man prevents ; yet this 
logic of the heart and spiritual nature is more than 
sufficient to guide every individual aright that possesses 
it in such high measure as she does. 

7 u n brit ige Wt ~//s . 2 8 7 

Beauty of Sussex Scenery — Congenial Society. 
To Mrs JOSHUA STANGER, Fieldside, Keswick, Cumberland. 

Tunbridge Wells, September z6th< 1843. — I am having 
every advantage here which a most agreeable family 
a-cle and daily drives in an easy carriage, in the most 
inspiriting air, through a lovely country, can give me ; 
and I do full)* believe that I shall be better in the end 
for having made the effort to come hither, and to mix 
myself up with my neighbours' concerns. I seek to 
take an interest in all their little belongings, and culti- 
vate cheerfulness as much as possible. Enough of 
melancholy remembrance and deep irremoveable re- 
gret is sure to remain, let me do what 1 may to enter 
thankfully and genially into the present. 

The landscape here, which I believe you arc well 
acquainted with, continually puts me in mind of 
Milton's description of Paradise, the slopes are so 
emerald-velvetty, and the clumps and clusters of trees 
so varied and beautiful. But there is an imperfection 
in the prospect from the want of water. I long to in- 
troduce dancing rills, and fairy waterfalls, and lucid 
pools, into the midst of these basin-like valleys, and 
to people the glades with deer and the villages with 
a freer, finer peasantry. There is a great want of water 
generally in the South of England. Devonshire has 
plenty of it ; but the climate of Devon is to me a draw- 
back for which nothing can compensate. 

The family party here consists of Judge E , his 

288 Me mot?' and Letters of Sara Coleridge. 

wife, two daughters, and eldest son : the youngest is at 

Eton. The visitors are Miss M , a charming young 

woman, most animated and intelligent, a niece of Judge 

E , and myself. Judge E is one of the most 

agreeable men in the family circle that I have ever 
known. He has the indescribable air and way of a 
man of high birth about him ; and there is in his con- 
versation that happy mixture of seriousness, with light 
sportiveness and arch remark, which everybody likes, 
and which is never jarring or oppressive, whatever 
mood one may be in. 


Friendly Recollections and Anticipations. 

To Miss Morris. 

October 1843. — You cannot think what pleasure I 
have in looking back upon my late visit. The verdurous, 
soft, quiet beauty of the country at Tunbridge Wells 
seems to form a very harmonious ground for the more 
prominent remembrances with which it has furnished 
me. Your relatives of the honourable and honoured 

name of E , like glow-worms, shine in the shade ; 

they come out most brightly in family life, as indeed do 
all characters who have much in them. How can that 
much be shown in company ? That part of my recol- 
lections in which you figure, dear Miss Morris, of 
the character of that I do not now speak to you, but 
I trust it will appear more and more in our future 

Ckei rfu lm 'ss and Ht ipp im 'ss. 289 

lives, as a suitable beginning of a happy and fruitful 
friendship. — Believe mo, affectionately yours, 



<)n her Loss — Cheerfulness instead of Happiness — Visits to 
Eton and Tunbridge Wells. 

To Mrs Henry M. Jones, Hampstead. 

Eton, October 13///, 1843. — Of course I am not up to 
the mark of easy, quiet enjoyment; yet 1 feel that, for 
a time, it is good for me to be here. I cannot withdraw 
myself from the world ; I must live on in this outward 
scene (though it continually seems most strange to my 
feelings that I should yet be mixed up in it and Henry 
gone from it for ever). But since I have been doomed 
to outlive my husband, I must, for my children's sake as 
well as my own, endeavour to enter, with as much spirit 
as 1 can, into the interests and movements of the sphere 
to which it is God's will that I should yet belong. Ever 
since my widowhood I have cultivated cheerfulness as I 
never did before. During my time of union I possessed 
happiness; mere cheerfulness I looked upon as a weed, 
the natural wild produce of the soil, which must spring 
up of itself. Now I crave to see fine works of art, or the 
still more mind-occupying displays of nature. I try to 
take an interest in the concerns of my friends, to ente 
into the controversies of the day, to become intimate 
with the mood of mind and character of various persons, 
who are nothing to me (I being nothing to them;, except 

I T 

290 Memoir and Letters of Sara Coleridge. 

as studies ; just as a lichen or a curious moss may be, 
only in a higher manner and degree. All this with an 
earnestness unfelt in former times. To a certain extent 
I find my account in this ; my mind is restless, and 
rather full of desultory activity than, what is far better, 
concentred energy ; but it does not stagnate. I do not 
brood miserably over my loss, or sink into an aimless, 
inert despondency ; I have even an upper stratum of 
cheerfulness in my mind, more fixed than in my happy 
married days, but then it is only an upper stratum, 
beneath it, unmoved and unmodified, is the sense of my 

I have been interrupted, to see Dr Hawtrey. He 
was such an intimate friend of my beloved Henry. I 
shall always, on this account, feel a special interest in 
him. And he is in himself much to be liked and 
approved, most amiabje in his domestic character, as 
son and brother, and full of intellectual refinement ; a 
good scholar, and an accomplished modern linguist. 

I came hither for a holiday, but I assure you I have 
no complete one. Herbert makes me read " Euripides " 
with him, and hear his Latin theme, I being as good a 
judge of Latin composition as a Great Cham of Tartary 
is of English. 

My visit at Tunbridge Wells was a very agreeable 
one. I was quite astonished at the picturesque beauty 
and great variety of the country there, and found the 

family of Judge E quite charming in every-day 

familiar life. Miss M , who was my fellow visitant, 

I found more than an agreeable companion, though she 

Si " of C 7/ Hi i/i oo J. 291 

is that in a high degree ; her brilliancy and amusing 

humour is the mere sparkling, polished surface of a 

genuine jewel, in which the ground is invaluable. I 

cannot but add her to my list of friends made since 

marriage, in which list you, dear friend, are so prominent. 

Mama is looking anxiously for a sight of you. Your 

ctionate conduct towards her, dear Mrs Jones, gives 

me more comfort than I can well express. I do n< t 

think she fails at all in mind, and in body her declension 

title and gradual. 

I must get ready to drive out and see the oak forests 

of Windsor, in all the charming draper)- of autumnal 

gleam and shadow. — I remain your truly attached friend, 

xuse the egotism of this letter. Sorrow makes one 


Sympathy inspired by the Sorrows of Childhood and Youth. 

To Edward Quillinan, Esq." 

Eton, October 24///, 1843. — I scarce know why it is 
that I feel far more moved by the griefs of childhood 
and of youth than those of middle age. One has a 
se, I suppose, that the young have a sort of right to 
happiness, or rather to gladsomeness and enjoyment; 
that if they ever are to be gay and pretty then is the 

1 The son-in-law of Mr Wordsworth. Mr Quillinan was well acquainted 
with the Portuguese language and literature, and has left a translation of 
the fir>t five cantos of the " Lusiad of Camoen^." — E. C. 

292 Memoir and Letters of Sara Coleridge. 

time. Sorrow and sallow cheeks come to me at my 
time of life not unnaturally. Reflection has preceded 
them, and ought at least to have enabled the fading 
mourner to look beyond them, to see a new world 
wherein dwelleth righteousness, and to drown in its 
lustre, superinduced over the worsening remnant of our 
earthly life, all its own melancholy hues. The compara- 
tive health and beauty of those who have fairly parted 
with youth is but a poor thing at the best. But you 
will laugh at my moralising on the subject of beauty, at 
least if you do not bear in mind that I am not thinking 
of that which we ascribe to a beauty, the admired of the 
ball-room, the celebrated toast, but rather of that general 
attribute which the Psalmist must have referred to, when 
he complained so heavily that his " beauty was wasted 
for very trouble." We all have, or have had beauty, 
though we are not all " beauties." 


Restoration of the Jews— Literal Fulfilment of the Promise appa- 
rently Indicated by Old Testament Prophecy, and by the 
Words of St Paul in his Epistle to the Romans. 

To Mrs Joshua STANGER, Keswick. 

10 Chester Place, December \Wi, 1843. — The passage 
which has always seemed to me very strong for the 
restoration of the Jews, or at least very remarkable, and 

Restoration of the j'cics. 293 

seemingly hitherto unfulfilled, is Jeremiah xxiii. 5-8. f 
Hen Ezra and Mr Dodsworth take great pains t<> show 

that this cannot be understood of any restoration of the 
Jews to their own land, that has already taken place. 
I never read any argument against the opinion of the 
restoration of the Jews; and should like to know how- 
Mr Myer>, and others who have a positive belief that 
Scripture is not to be so understood, interpret that ; 

My own mind has hitherto been quite suspended 
on the subject, which I have but very cursorily ex- 
amined; I have no positive formed belief against this 
view, as I own I have against the doctrine of the 

Zechariah xiv. 4, 5, "And his feet shall stand upon 
the Mount of Olives" has more apparent reference to 
the restoration of the Jews than to the Millennium. 

There seems, too, to my mind to be a sort of internal 
probability, — or rather, I mean, a sort of fitness and 
propriety in the thing ; it looks like a completion of a 
design of which two parts were already accomplished; — 
I mean the setting apart of the chosen nation, — then 
the dispersion among the Gentiles. Does it not seem 
as if their restoration were the proper last act of the 
great drama? Of course, I speak of this only as an 

*"' ith the Lord, that I will raise unto David a 

righteous branch, \c. Therefore, behold, the Hays come, sailh the Lord, 
that they shall no more say, The Lord liveth which brought up the 
children of Israel out of the land of Egypt ; l»ut the Lord liveth which 
brought up and which led the seed of the house of Israel out of the north 
country," &c, (Jer. xxiii. 5-8.) 

294 Memoir and Letters of Sara Coleridge. 

auxiliary argument; and then the latter part of Romans, 
chapter xi.,* seems to favour this view not a little. 


Readings in Aristophanes — Cheerfulness and Simplicity of Early 


To the Hon. Mr Justice Coleridge. 

Chester Place, December 26th, 1843. — As to Aristo- 
phanes, I quite accede to the justice of your repre- 
sentations of his not altogether fitness for the joint 
perusal of Herby and me. I had clean forgotten the 
uncleanness, till my boy discreetly observed that there 
was a word in the next line which would not do to be 
voiced aloud. We shall only read the "Frogs," but 
Herby is so delighted with this play that it would be a 
pity for him not to finish it, as I believe, from what 
Frere says, that there is but little, after the first scene, 
to object to in it. The spirit of the humour of Aristo- 
phanes a boy like Herbert may well enter into, when 
the material is once cleared out of its concealing husk 
and set before him. The temptation to read Aristo- 
phanes is, that his plays are mirthful, and "as there's 

* For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, 
I I ye should be blind in your own conceits; that blindness in part is 
happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in. 

And so all Israel shall be saved ; as it is written, There shall come 
<»ut of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob, 
(Romans xi. 25, 26.) 

" The 1 

nought but care on every hand," I am glad of every 
scrap of cheerfulness which I can lay before my children, 

now in their spring season when they can enjoy it. I 
feel sadly for them that this is a widowed home. But 
they appear as glad as others of their age, and the great 
change to me bears lightly upon them in comj 

We have been laughing heartily at the " Frogs" again. 

It would be a lounge to read Homer with Herby; but I 
feel a wish to get him through some of the harder, more 
troublesome parts of the classical task that lies before 
him. It is wonderful, — not wonderful so much as notice- 
able, — how fitted the ancient classics are in general for 
the youthful mind. They contain, indeed, the youthful 
mind of our human race, are less abstract and subjective 
than modern compositions. 



Letters to Miss Morris, John Kenyon, Esq., Mrs Edward Cole- 
ridge. Mrs Farrer, Mrs J. Stanger. 



"Travelling Onwards" — Differences of Mental Perspective in the 
Contemplation of Truth— Doctrine of the Millennium — Sym- 
bolism in the Bible — " Messiah's Kingdom" and the " Reign 

of the Saints,'" both signify the Establishment of Christianity 
— Literal Explanation of the latter Prophecy by some of the 
Father-, not founded on Tradition. 

To Mis-, MORRIS, Mecklenburg Square. 

Chester Place % January I 844. — "Geneva!" and "Rome! " 
My hope and trust is that we are travelling onwards y and 
shall in time leave these names, these badges of division, 
behind us. So far I understand and sympathize with 
Mr Maurice, that I think there has been much of 
" notionalism " among all parties; by which I take him 
to mean, in general, a losing sight, or at least a steady- 
view, of spiritual substance, through the perplexing and 
deluding atmospheric medium of the mere understand- 
ing, its refractions and distorting reflections ; so that 
differences have arisen, not from pure perversity of 
heart, as believers are so apt to say of those who dis- 
e with them, nor from an absolute blindness to 
truth, but from difference of position and a variableness 
and uncertainty in the medium itself. I sympathize 
with him, too, in this, that from being very strongly 


oo Memoir and Letters of Sara Coleridge. 

possessed with the thought which I have just mentioned, 
I am a good deal isolated from all the conflicting parties 
now on the arena, and cannot agree wholly either with 
Tractarians or Anti-Tractarians. For Maurice is at 
bottom quite as unlike any party in his views as I have 
been led to be, though his language would put him into 
the class of High Churchmen, somewhere between the 
old section and the new, with those who read him but 
cursorily, without asking him and themselves very 
strictly what that language, in his mouth, means. 

If you will soon be addressing Mr Bickersteth, pray 
convey my best thanks to him for his last gift. I think 
I have read all that he says on the Promised Glory, and 
know the texts which he brings to the service of his 
view. Certainly, looked at in one way, they serve it 
effectively. I cannot, however, help seeing them in 
another. The more we look back to the development 
and expression of thought in past ages, the more, I 
think, we find that great spiritual and moral truths 
were in the earlier times continually presented in the 
form of the fable or myth. Instead of sermons and 
scientific treatises, they had allegories and symbolical 
representations : all doctrines — moral, religious, or meta- 
physical — were embodied and clad in .sensuous forms. 
To speak of this, and draw inferences from it in the in- 
terpretation of that old book, the Bible, is considered a 
modern refinement, a piece of rationalism. But ration- 
alism did not invent the mythical mode of writing : it 
does but point it out, and compare what it presumes to 
be instances of it in Scripture with countless others out 

Messiahs Kingdom. 301 

Scripture. I seem to myself to see plainly that the 
descriptions of the Messiah's kingdom in the Prophets 

arc descriptions of Christianity itself, in all the glory, 
and gladness, and purity of the idea, under the guis< 
actual history, and with all the pomp of sensuous im- 
agery to render the symbol significant. In the same 
way 1 read the Revelations; and it seems to me that 
on this plan an interpretation may be given, which, 
though at first it seems bold, yet is in truth more con- 
sistent with itself, and more accordant with the language 
of Scripture, when that is tried by the proper rules, 
than any other. I cannot but think that the whole 
theory of the earthly millennial kingdom stands on an 
insecure foundation, because I always find from writers 
on the subject that at bottom it rests with every one of 
them on Rev. xx. 4, as it did from the first; and I do 
verily believe that the language of that text will not 
admit of the interpretation which their theory gives to 
it. The ear!>' Fathers, some of them, understood it so ; 
but such symbolical texts they made sad work with, I 
believe, for the most part. We should not, any of us, 
like to accept their Biblical criticism all through ; and 
criticism it was plainly enough, not traditional know- 
ledge of an>- clear description. 


Critique on the Early Poems of Elizabeth Barrett (Mrs Browning) 
— Favourite I'ieces — Exuberance ut" her Style inappropriate to 

302 Memoir and Letters of Sara Coleridge. 

Solemn Themes— Hasty Objections made by Miss B to 

the Ideal Philosophy of Berkeley, and to the Wolfian Theory 
of Homer. 

To John Kenyon, Esq.* 

Regent's Park, 1844. — My dear Mr Kenyon — At last 
I return with thanks the Poems of Miss Barrett, which I 
now always mention in high terms to any of my ac- 
quaintances, when the conversation affords an oppor- 
tunity. I think my favourites are the " Poet's Vow," 
"A Romance of the Ganges," " Isobel's Child" (so like 
" Christabel " in manner, as mama and I both thought), 
" The Island," " The Deserted Garden," and " Cowper's 

Grave." But my conception of Miss B 's poetical 

merit is formed from lines and stanzas occurring here 
and there in most of the poems — from the general im- 
pression produced by the whole collection, rather than 
from any number of entire pieces. " The Seraphim " 
contains very fine passages ; and perhaps no other single 
poem in the volume has impressed me so strongly with 
the writer's power ; and yet, taken as a whole, with re- 

* A friend of Mr Southey's, and relative of the gifted lady whose earlier 
works form the subject of this letter. It is proper to add that the two 
concluding paragraphs are only inserted here for the sake of the interesting 
remarks which they contain on Berkeley's system and the Homeric ques- 
tion, since the notes which orginally called them forth were withdrawn in 
subsequent editions. In Mrs Browning's later publication, my mother 
particularly admired the "Drama of Exile," (the subject of which she 
thought "more within the sphere of poetic art" than that of the " Sera- 
phim,") " Lady Geraldine's Courtship," "The Cry of the Children," the 
"Rhyme of the Duchess May," and the "lovely sonnet " called " Irre- 
parableness." — E. C. 

•• The Seraphim? 303 

ference not to what others could produce, but with what 
it ought to be, I confess it does not altogether please 

me. If there be a subject throughout the range of 
human thought which demands to be treated (if treated 
at all as the prominent theme of any metrical composi- 
t ;<>n> with a sober Miltonic majesty of style, rather than 
with a wild modernism and fantastic rapture, surely 
that subject is the Crucifixion of a Saviour and the Re- 
demption of a fallen world. Even in that clever trans- 
lation of the " Prometheus Hound " (for very clever it is), 
there occur some phrases which want the Hebraic sim- 
plicity o{ the original. "The faded white flower of the 
Titanic brow," — do you think that quite comes up to 
the manly broadness and boldness of the Greek Dram- 
atist, or suits the awful circumstances of the Titan fixed 
upon his rock ? There is a flower in both cases, to be 
sure ; but /Eschylus meant that the whole outward wait 
of Prometheus would be parched and discoloured by the 
sun's heat ; and this he expressed by a plain but un- 
translatable Graecism. I think that your cousin should 
stud\- a noble simplicity, especially as her poetical aims 
are so high, lest she should be obliged to finish the lofty 
temples of imagination with brass instead of gold. You 
see how easy it is to preach even for those who cannot 
practice; but Miss Barrett can practice, and will bene- 
fit, I trust, by preaching of more authority than mine, 
the presumption of which will never reach her ears. 

I cannot make an end of my preaching, however, 
without venturing a remark or two on her summary 
manner of dealing with the Homeric question, and with 

304 Memoir and Letters of Sara Coleridge. 

the opinions of Berkeley. Surely no one, who under- 
stands what Berkeley's scheme of Idealism really was 
would suppose that the poor bishop was bound, in con- 
sistency with his metaphysical principles, to let a cart 
run over him ! He tells us plainly, that if by material 
substance he meant only that which is seen and felt, then 
is he " more sensible of matter's existence than any 

other philosopher." I question whether Miss B 

did not confound idealism with unreality, as persons 
new to the subject invariably do. Few metaphysicians 
would ratify her sentence that Berkeley was " out of his 
senses;." though none now perhaps believe his system 
true in fact, or look upon it as other than a platform 
on which a certain number of pregnant truths were 
exhibited in a strong point of view. Charming observes 
how it has influenced the modes of thinking among 

Then, again, Miss B 's censure of all who believe 

in the " Homeric speculation " is sweeping indeed. It 
sweeps away, like chaff before the wind, not only 
almost all the great scholars and fine critics of learned 
Germany, not only " the eloquent Villemain," and 
numbers of French savans, — not only men of genius 
and learning, such as Wolf and Heyne, and the Italian 
Vico, — but those of the highest poetic feeling, who, both 
in this and other countries, are converts to the system. 

Before I conclude, however, let me add that I do not 
quarrel with any one for sticking resolutely to the 
" blind old man of Scio's rocky isle," nor pretend to 
have formed a decided opinion on this puzzling point 

Gladsameness of Children. 305 

upon which great doctors have agreed to differ; though 
I incline to the belief, that if Homer ever existed, he no 
more wrote all the books of the Iliad, than one 
Hercules performed the twelve labours ascribed to him. 
The books, to be sure, are extant, the labours fabulous ; 
but I mean that the one, as the other, may have been a 
nucleus around whose works those of others were col- 
lected, but whose name remained to the whole. 

/'. S. — Since writing the above, I have again read the 
"Seraphim," and am more impressed with its merit 
than at first It is full of beaut)'. 


Gladsomeness a Natural Gift of Childhood — Severe Discipline 
not suited to the Period of Early Youth. 

To her Eldest Hrother. 

Chester Place, 1N44. — There is a gladsomencss gene- 
rail}- found in children happily circumstanced and 
managed by those who understand and will to act upon 
the simple rules, by observance of which these little 
ones are made and kept as happy as they can be; — 
keeping black care quite out of their sight, addressing 
them with cheerful looks and tones, never keeping them 
long at any one task, yet enforcing a certain amount of 
work, with occasional half and some whole, holidays, 
regularly, — never letting any trouble remain as a weight 
and grinding pressure upon their minds, — but inflicting 


06 Memoir and Letters of Sara Coleridge. 

at once whatever is absolutely necessary, — and then 
diverting their minds to what is easy and pleasant. A 
child must also have a certain amount of health and of 
intellectual activity, imaginativeness, and so forth, to be 
perpetually gladsome, — but with the positives and nega- 
tives that I have named, we shall find any child in a 
country or town cottage not only cheerful, but joyous. 

Of course, I am not implying that to produce and 
maintain this gladness is the great work of education — 
but I feel assured that it is a true part of education, and 
that amid this ease from without, and consequent happi- 
ness from within, the affections, temper, and under- 
standing expand and grow more favourably, and take a 
better and more generous form than under other cir- 
cumstances. What I am now saying, however, applies 
to children as such ; this I think the best preparatory 
state, because it best enables the native powers to 
develope themselves ; but trial and hardship are proper 
to exercise and consolidate them from time to time as 
soon as they have gained a certain measure of strength ; 
and to put the matter practically, I think that parents 
should make their children as easy and happy as ever 
they can without indulging them in what is wrong, 
leaving discipline to be supplied by the ordinary and 
inevitable course of events, the sorrow, difficulty, and 
suffering which life in this world brings to every in- 
dividual. The young people that are spoiled by an in- 
dulgent home are spoiled, I think, not by over-happiness, 
but from having been encouraged in selfishness, never 
made to understand, and led to practise Christian duty. 

Mch ical Rules. 307 


The Temple Church — Colour in Architecture. 

To Mrs Edward Coleridge, Eton. 

June, 1844. — Yesterday, I saw with delight for the 
first time the restored Temple Church. The restoration 
seems to me to be in excellent taste, with the exception 
of the altar. No doubt, the great beauty of this interior 
consists in what it always had, its general form, with the 
clustered pillars, and exquisite interlacing of arches. 
But the decorative part brings out and illuminates this 
original and essential beauty, as I have so often seen the 
rich colours of sunset illuminate the fine forms of my 
native hills. 


Use of Metrical Rules in Poetry — Versification of " Christabel'' 
and '"The Ancient Mariner" — Artificial Character of some of 
the Creek Metres. 

To Miss Morris. 

Jiuic loth, 1844. — Have you been poetizing of late? 
Mind, I do not tie you down to those longs and shorts ; 
but, depend upon it, there is much use in them. The 
more our ear can direct us the better, but rules help and 
educate the ear. Poetry is more of an art than people- 
in general think. They know that Music and Painting 
are arts ; but they imagine that Poetry must flow forth 
spontaneously, like the breath which we breathe, without 
volition or consciousness. All our finest metrists knew 
these rules : how far they went by them I cannot say ; 

308 Memoir and Letters of Sara Coleridge. 

but I know that my father, whose versification has been 
greatly admired by critics, was fond of talking about 
anapaests and iambuses ; and if people admired " Chris- 
tabel," as it were, by nature, he was never easy till he 
had put them in the way of admiring it more scientifi- 
cally. Dr Carlyle says he never succeeded in making 
him admire " The Ancient Mariner " properly. He was 
obliged, after all, to go back to his own first rude im- 
pressions, and rely upon them. 

The manner in which the ancient verse was con- 
structed is a curious problem. It seems as if those 
very artificial metres, dependent on syllabic quantity, 
could never in any degree have been written by ear, or 
otherwise than as such verse is written now. All critics, 
however, agree that the best and seemingly most easy and 
natural styles, both in prose and verse, are those that 
have been most artfully written and carefully elaborated. 
Art alone will do nothing, but it improves and educes 
the natural gift. Cobbett taught wrong doctrine on this 
head ; and so, I believe, did my uncle Southey. 


The "Life of Arnold" a Book to be "gloried in"— The Visible 
Church, not to be Identified with any Single System — Dr 
Arnold's Opinion that there ought to be no Distinction 
between the Clergy and the Laity. 

To the Hon. Mr Justice Coleridge. 

July 1844. — I cannot tell you in one short day, or the 
longest summer day that ever shone, what I feel and 

The Christian Church. 309 

tli ink about the "Life of Arnold," — how I rejoice over 
it, how I glory in it, what good I augur from it. N«>t 
that I can see my way through the whole of Arnold's 
view, or perceive the justice of all his practical conclu- 
sions. I cannot but think with him that the visible 
Church is a human institution, sanctioned and bles 
by God, and rendered the vehicle of His grace, just so 
far as it is really an efficient instrument of the preserva- 
tion and propagation of true Christianity. I can sec no 
sufficient reason to believe that it was supernatural ly 
ordained by Him in detail — that it is not in this respect 
ntially different from its Jewish predecessor. I 
cannot doubt that it was full of error from the first, the 
Apostles during their life repressing, but not radically 
removing, wrong notions of the faith. I imagine that 
the Church, as a spiritual power co-ordinate with the 
\Y< rd and the Spirit, is certainly realized through a 
visible machinery and system of outward ordinances, 
but by no means confined to one alone, and that one 
prescribed by Christ Himself: so far as any one answers 
its great end better than another, so far it is a more 
divine and a fuller organ of the Spirit. But putting the 
question on the grounds upon which Arnold himself 
would have placed it — moral evidence, reason, and the 
plain-speaking of Scripture — I cannot but infer that re- 
ligion and affairs of policy ought to have distinct func- 
tionaries ; and certainly the general judgment of man- 
kind, and not a mere sect and party of Christians, has 
inclined to this view rather than the other. 

310 Memoir and Letters of Sara Coleridge. 


"Nothing to do" — Isaac Taylor's Suggestion that there will be 
Work as well as Rest in Heaven — Seaside Views and Walks 
— Fellow-Lodgers — Idleness and Extravagance of London 
Shopkeepers — Two Sorts of Diffuseness — Lord Eldon — Re- 
flections on his Character and Portrait. 

To Mrs Farrer. 

5 Nelson Place, Broadstairs, Aug. 2Jth, 1844. — Dearest 
Mrs Fairer — I will not defer writing to you till I have 
"nothing else to do;" for I hope that time will never 
come. . Mr Taylor of Ongar, in his "History of Enthus- 
iasm," takes pains to show that we shall have a great 
deal to do in heaven, and even have to work hard there. 
My remark, however, is quite limited to the time of this 
mortal life ; for I think we are scarcely qualified as yet 
to cut out our work in the world to come, or determine 
upon the manner in which we shall spend eternity. 
Probably our present ideas of labour and rest will not 
be among the things which we shall carry along with 
us into the other state ; and I cannot think Mr Taylor 
is justified in accusing other Christians of having indolent 
notions of heaven, because they have not exactly his 
view of the exertions that are to be made there. Be 
that as it may, however, the main part of my business 
here at Broadstairs is to scribble on scraps of paper, 
sometimes on sheets ; and I am sure that after all your 
great kindness to me, and concern shown for my com- 
fort, I ought to fill one of these little sheets, as well as I 
can, to you, little indeed as I have to put into it 

Broads tairs. 3 1 1 

I know you will be pleased to hear how very satis- 
factory I find these lodgings. I never before had a 
-room with an interesting prospect, and I under- 
valued tn you what I had scarce learned to prize. But 
nothing can be more charming than the view which I 
have before me now. The cornfield betwixt me and 
the sea takes off the sense of dreariness, and occasional 
bleak chilliness, which a full view of the "unfruitful 
ocean," and that alone, relieved only by the not more 
fruitful or lifesome shore, has always inspired me with. 
The sea thus viewed has something of a lake-like 
aspect ; but that soft green hue was never seen upon 
any of my native lakes, although their calm bosoms 
used to exhibit a great variety of hues. I take short 
walks sometimes two or three times a day ; yesterday, 
I walked out between seven and eight in the evening in 
hopes to see the moonlight shining on the sea. But the 
moon, which had bathed the landscape in tender light, 
the night before, was hidden in clouds; still I had a 
pleasant walk towards Dampton Stairs, and saw the 
eartA-stars, — the lights on Goodwin sands and others, 
to advantage. For a day and a half after your de- 
parture, I felt low and unequal to walking ; but since 
then my mercury has risen a little, and I feel as if the 
sea was (or " were" f no, was in this case, I think) doing 
me that kind and degree of good which it generally has 
done, whenever I have tried it under tolerably favour- 
able circumstances. The only drawback has been the 
noisiness of the children. Yesterday afternoon I began 
to think it went quite beyond bounds, and all my self- 


1 2 Memoir and Letters of Sara Coleridge. 

remindings that I had loud-voiced chatterers of my 
own, did not bring me to feel complacently on the 
subject of so much rattling up and down stairs, in- 
cessant slamming of doors, and squeaking and squab- 
bling. They say there is no lane so long but it comes 
to an end at last. I find, however, that my lane is a 
very short one, for the noise-makers depart in a day or 
two ; indeed, they have been very bearable ever since 
yesterday. Their " pa " and " ma " keep a shop in Ox- 
ford Street ; and now that I am able to make some calm, 
disinterested philosophic reflections on all that I have 
observed in this family, I am confirmed in my old 
opinion that the inferior London shop-keepers are an ill- 
managing class. I suspect, at least, (I will not venture 
to say more), that they have more luxury with less in 
proportion of real respectability, that they partake 
more of the civilization of their times with less of the 
cultivation, than almost any other portion of the com- 
munity. These children live on the stairs or in the 
kitchen, and never take a book or needle in their hands, 
and yet their parents are overburdening Mrs Smith 
with cooking attendance, dressing well, and living for 
many weeks by the sea in commodious lodgings. The 
extravagance and recklessness that go on in the families 
of tradesmen in London is beyond what the rank 
above them even dream of. No wonder they hate the 
Church and band against her. The farmers may be 
still worse in grudging their money; but shop-keepers 
turn against the Church, I think, because they are 
better fed than taught, and because they hate regularity, 

Diffuseness. 313 

and all that is stern and strict. Methodism and 
Quakerism have their own strictness ; but t/uy, many of 
them, stick to no sect, but go after this or that preacher. 
They represent the bad Spirit of this age more com- 
pletely than almost any other large class amongst us ; 
but, I believe, they are to be pitied more than blamed, 
having great temptations to all they do amiss. 

I heard Dr H again last Sunday, and continued 

to like his manner of preaching, for its earnestness and 
practicability, and aiming at the one thing needful. 
The fault of his style is a verbosity and diffuseness ; 
he J you five branches of illustration, where one 

good solid bough would be quite enough. It is well to 
be reminded that we are better than the beasts that 
perish, and can give greater glory to God ; but the 
various particulars of our superiority, beginning with 
our erect posture, &c, &C, might be left to our own 
minds to suggest. This is very different from such 
diffuse: - that of Lord Eldon, who had not, I con- 

jecture, m rds than matter, but more matter of 

various kinds than he could arrange to perfection ; the 
minor matters overlaid the major, as the muffling ivy 
prevents the fine figure of a noble oak, with its well- 
proportioned trunk and branches, from being clearly 
erned. He was perspicuous in thought, but not 
equally perspicuous in expression. I read to the end of 
this last volume of his life with very great interest of 
various kinds. The concluding portion, containing the 
vindication of his professional character, appeared to 
me very ably written, and upon the whole, more than 

1. x 

314 Memoir and Letters of Sara Coleridge. 

triumphant, and the remarks on Chancery business, and 
the legal anecdotes interspersed, are very good also. 
The perusal brought home to me, what I have long felt, 
how impossible it is that any eminently good, and great, 
and useful man should go through life without being 
perseveringly and violently misrepresented and ill-used. 
That review by Justice W. is such a specimen of able, 
but untruthful and unfair writing! The portrait of Lord 
Eldon, the more I look at it, the more it seems to be 
the very man, mild sensibility and weight of intellect 
and moral firmness and sound judgment, are all marked 
in that countenance. 


Religious Discussion Necessary to the Church ; and Useful, under 
certain Conditions, to the Individual Christian. 

To Mrs Joshua Stanger, Keswick. 

10 Chester Place, November 7th, 1844. — You spoke in 
your last to me of controversy, and its spiritual inutility. 
I quite agree with you that it is of no direct benefit to 
the soul, and that it may be pursued injuriously to our- 
selves and others. But still I think it has its use even 
in a religious point of view, and that it may be used 
without being abused. I would exchange the term con- 
troversy (which gives a notion of quarrelling to many) 
for the milder one of discussion. This surely is necessary 
for the Church at large, if it is to be preserved from 
error, whilst the human understanding is so prone as it 

Religious Discussion. 3 1 q 


self-deception. But I own I should be disposed to 
go further ; and to say that in reason and in season, it 
is useful for the individual. We cannot have clear 
definite views, or know well what our professed tenets 
really are, or why we ought to hold them, unless we 
reflect upon them, and compare them with the opposite- 
ones which we reject. Persons who never do this (such 
persons, I believe, are very few, even among those who 
disclaim controversy) are apt, I think, to become 
narrow, superstitious, and bigoted ; to think their own 
belief the only one that any wise and good person can 
hold, yet all the time not to know what that belief 
really is, or how far it substantially (not in words only) 
differs from that of other Christians, with whom they 
disagree. Such, I mean, is the tendency, in my opinion, 
of an undiscussing, taking-for-granted frame of mind, 
though I fully believe that practical Christianity is 
found both among those who discuss, and those who 
leave alone discussion ; and where that is, nothing else 
can be deeply amiss. 


Letters to the Hon. Mr Justice Coleridge; Hartley Coleridge, Esq. ; 
Aubrey de Yere, Esq.; Miss Morris; Miss Erskine; Mrs 
Farrer; the Hon. Mrs Henry Taylor. 


Memories of her Native Yale — The " Quarterly Review " a greater 

D Practical than on Poetical Matters — Dr Arnold 

as a Man and a Writer — His peculiar Theory of Church and 

•• — Definition of Humility and Modesty, suggested by a 

• in the " Northern Worth: 

To Hartley Coleridge, Esq., Nab Cottage. Grasmere. 

Chester Pla 20th, 1845. — Your communi- 

cations and comments arc ever most interesting to me, 
partly because they are upon persons and things in my 
native land hich I have turned since my loss with 

renewed love and longing — to thoughts of the hills and 
the lakes, and still more of the rivers and streamlets, my 
dearly-beloved Greta rushing over the stones by the 
Carding- Mill Field, or sweeping past, swollen with 
rains; and all the lovely flowers, especially the yellow 
globe flower, which fringe the banks, or lurk in the 
woods, or crowd and cluster in the open glades. But 
then my remembrance of all these things i- inseparably 
eiated with the feelings of early youth, which lends 
them. Now, if I were at the Blue-bell Bog, 
or on the slope of Goosey Green, I should be sinking 
with fatigue, not knowing how I should get back again. 
n an easy saunter by Greta's side would be a very 
rent thing, now that life, or the best part of it, is all 

320 Memoir and Letters of Sara Coleridge. 

behind me, from what it was when this same life was 
before me — a vision often broken and obscured indeed 
by fear and anxiety, but yet with the Sun of Hope 
burning in its centre. This thought prevents me from 
lamenting, as I otherwise might, that I cannot look to 
spend my latter years in the lovely country of my 
youth. Yet I never take a solitary walk in the Park 
without longing that I could turn my steps towards 
dear old Friar's Crag. I think, in spite of middle age, 
and sickness and sorrow, I should still have much en- 
joyment in looking on the Lake, every day differently 
complexioned from the last, in gazing on the hills lit up 
by sunset, and all the manifold shows of nature among 
my native hills. Herbert H seems to miss the rich- 
ness and variety of the lake-land exceedingly. In his 
last letter he observed how fiat countries lose all their 
attractions in winter, which does but interestingly vary 
those of a mountainous district. Do not think, how- 
ever, from my speaking of having left the bes: part of 
life behind me, that I am unhappy. I do not in the 
least wish to be happier, in the sense of having more 
satisfaction and animated enjoyment in the things of 

this world. It is best for me as it is 

It is remarkable how strong the "Quarterly Review" 
is in dealing with matters of fact : various as the writers 
in it must be, they always shine in that department. 
In abstract reasonings this " Review " is not great, and 
in aesthetics it is generally poor enough. Its poetical 
criticism is arbitrarily vague, without the slightest at- 
tempt at principle, and in a sneering, contemptuous 

Shelley and Keats. 321 

spirit. Its treatment of Keats and Tennyson was ultra- 
zoilian. I admire Keats excessively. Mr Wordsworth 
used to say of Shelley and Keats that they would ever 
be great favourites with the young, but would not 
satisfy men of all ages. There is a truth in this saying, 
though I should say that it is not literally true, for I 
myself and main- other medicevals can read their pro- 
ductions with unabated pleasure. But yet I feel that 
there is in those writers a want of solidity: they do not 
embody in their poems much of that with which the 
deeper and the universal heart and mind of man can 
sympathize. To be always reading Shelley and Keats 
would be like living on quince-marmalade. Milton 
and Word-worth are substantial diet for all times and 

Your admiration of Arnold I fully share. I admire, 
and, what is more, deeply honour him as a man, and as 
a writer so far as the man appears in his writings. As 
a reasoner and speculator I surmise that he was not 
it, though what he does see clearly he expresses 
with great energy and lifesomencss. It seems to me 
that he arrived at much truth which subtler men miss 
through sheer honest}- and singleness of heart and mind, 
through sheer impatience and imprudence, not through 
philosophy. His views of Church and State I cannot 
well understand (I have not seen his fragment on the 
Church): so far as I can understand them, I imagine (it 
seems presumptuous for such as I to opine positively on 
such a subject) that they are incorrect and inadequate, 
lie was a great historian ; yet I would fain see how he 

- 22 Mi nd L 

reconciled them with hi.-- ~ -t alone p] Bv 

unifying the S :th the Church, does he not mil! 
and destroy the latter as a spiritual pc - :he ar.- 
gonist of the world, and confer privileges and " 
on the former incompatible with its proper and pe 
ones ? I should say, in i .oranc. 
all but I sm in disguise, at least prac: 
perhaps I do not apprehend his scheme. He was a 
a burning and a shining light in this country. H 
" L id Letters" seem to have made a greater im- 
pression on the public mind than a 
been published for many a day 

Reading : h e 

height of my illness I read the "Doctor" and your 
"Worthies:" I did not want 
ones in which I took a special 
you said in a note, u M - and vanity- are or 

: phenomena of one and the same d 
extreme consciousness and apprehensivenc 
observed."* But this degrades modesty, m. -. into 

mere bashfulness, which belongs to the physical tem- 
perament, and is but modesty's shadow. Many a 
; uth has both modesty- and vanity- ; for mode - 
directly opposed, not to \ but to impuc 

II, modesty is surely something ee me fe. 

of i, which is, indeed, but a phase or mood 

of vanity, when it is not mere nervous bashfi. 

How shall we define Modesty ? Surely it is an im- 

-thern Worthies,'' by Hartley C 
-E. C. 



than it. prudential 

i all 
rnly, unfittir in r 

to h:n 


in those of 


D than if I 
tim it. 1 ' 

I thin' to it I lumil ' 

haps, is 1 

of th< lim- 

i ■ 



: I 

al nun 
th fur 
[ should sa; 


24 Memoir and Letters of Sara Coleridge. 

that it is upon the whole a veiy interesting collection of 
specimens of our modern English school of painting : it 
contains so many sweet landscapes by Stanfield (no 
Callcotts, alas !), by Collins, Creswick, Lee (one of 
whose pictures is almost a Gainsborough), Leitch, 
Harding, and Roberts, though about the productions of 
this last there is rather a tiring sameness. 

In this list I have not included Turner, because I can 
find but few persons who agree with me that he is to be 
admired ; but I had the comfort of an accordant voice 

with mine in dear Lady P 's. I do not like Turner's 

Venetian views, of which he has four in the present Ex- 
hibition, so much as two pictures called " Whalers," in 
which sea and sky are mixed up together in most (by 
me) admired confusion. No other man gives me any 
notion of that infinity of hues and tints and gradations 
of light and shade which Nature displays to those who 
have eyes for such sights, except Turner : no one else 
gives me such a sense of the power of the elements, no 
one else lifts up the veil and discloses the penetralia of 
Nature, as this painter does. The liquid look of his 
ocean and its lifesomeness, and that wonderful steam 
that is rising up and hovering over the agitated vessel, 
are what one might look for in vain in any but the 
Turnerian quarter. 

On the other hand, I cannot admire Landseer's 
" Shepherd in Prayer," so much as it is the fashion 
to do. In this picture he aims at something in a 
higher line than he has attempted before ; and, to my 
mind, in this higher line he wants power. There is 

Academy Picture.;. 325 

doubtless a sweet feeling about the picture: the shep- 
herd is good, and he kneels before a most picturesquely 
rural crucifix, but the sheep are de trop ; such a 
quantity of dead fleece scattered around, and continued 
on to the very horizon, I cannot away with, or rather, I 

wish it away. Neither can I satisfy D in the 

amount of admiration which he demands for Eastlake's 
" Comus." It is very pure and harmonious, and finely 
coloured, but it wants intensity, and meaning, and 
spirit The "Heiress" by Leslie is a most lovely girl ; 
and Clater's " Bride " as fair and vernal as the haw- 
thorn wreath with which she is encircling her head, in 
contempt of Fashion with her orange-flowers. Etty 
has seven or eight pictures, all of which have hi?> 
usual merits, more or less, and some of them are 
beautiful. His flesh is first-rate ; but one may look in 
vain in him for the spirit — that is, the spiritual and 


Visitors before Luncheon. 
To Miss Morris. 

Chester Place, 1845. — First, I must reply to your 
pro; f coming to see me between twelve and one 

o'clock. My rule is, not to let my friends visit me at 
that earl)- hour when they can with no great difficulty 
te at a later one ; because the two hours before my 
mid-day meal are with me the most uneasy in the 
whole twenty-four. Still, I do not wish to be more 

326 Memoir and Letters of Sara Coleridge. 

subjected to my bodily weakness than is unavoidable, 
and every now and then I am called down to some old 
friend whom I do not like to send away unseen. Old 
gentlemen especially will take their own way in such 
matters, and look in when it suits them rather than 
when it suits me. At first I feel faint and cross ; but 
when they begin laying down the law about this and 
that, — the Church and the Tract doctrines, and other 
such subjects, — as if there was but one opinion in the 
world that was really worth a straw, and that their own, 
— all other reasoners and thinkers dancing about after 
vain shadows and will-o'-the-wisps, — I am provoked into 
a sort of enraged strength, — my controversial muscles 
begin to plump up, — I lose sight of luncheon (a vision 
of which had been floating before my dull eyes before), 
and as soon as a pause occurs, I fill it up with my 
voice, and whether listened to or not, improve by 
exercise my small powers of expressing opinion. 


Interpretations of Scripture Prophecies by Writers of the Evangeli- 
cal School — Antichristian Character of the Papacy supposed 
to be predicted by the " Little Horn" in the Book of Daniel, 
the" Man of Sin" in the Second Epistle to the Thessalonians, 
and "Babylon the Great" in the Revelations — Contents of 
the Sixth Vial — Shelley's Atheism— Not Papal but Pagan 
Rome the real Object of the Apocalyptic Denunciations. 

To Miss Morris. 

io Chester Place, June 21 st, 1845. — I nave fcIt that I 
ought to have been conversing with you of late on a 

The Pope and Antichrist. 3 2 7 

subject upon which I have been venturing to write (I 
mean a letter only) — the subject of prophecy. 

I told Mr B the impression which the different 

s in Scripture, most important in the Antichrist 
controversy, and most dwelt upon by each party, as 
proving their own particular views, make upon me, 
when I read them without the medium of note or com- 
ment, and with no theory intervening betwixt my 
mind's eye and the text. The " little horn " of Daniel 
presents to me a staring likeness of the Tope. That 
it was intended for him, and for none other than he, I 
will not venture to say. I do not feel sure of that, all 
things considered, so far as I can consider them. But I 
say it is awfully like him, — that he is a little horn that 
speaks great things, and has eyes, such eyes as no other 
power in this world pos.- that he changes times 

and laws presumptuously and iniquitously, and has 
worn out a great many saints of God with persecutions. 
But when I read the language of the New Testament 
on the Man of Sin and Antichrist, instead of seeing this 
picture enlarged and rendered more distinct, — on the 
contrary, 1 see only a generalization. The mystery of 
iniquity is in the Papacy; — but that popery, and popery 
alone, is the mystery of iniquity 1 cannot persuade 
myself. Here, I think, Horsley, Palmer, and a hundred 
others, who oppose the theory which identifies Anti- 
christ with the Pope or Popery, are strong. That 
"wicked that is to be consumed by the spirit of the 
Lord's mouth, and destroyed by the brightness of His 
coming," is certainly no popery that has existed yet. 

328 Memoir and Letters of Sara Coleridge. 

But it is said there is to be another manifestation of 
popery and its corruption, and this it is which is to be 
destroyed. Now it is just this way of interpreting 
Scripture, this putting into the sacred text ad libitum, 
and filling up ever so great a gulf and gap with supposi- 
tion, which seems to me so unwarrantable, and a 
method too which never leads to any conclusion, be- 
cause every different theorist can resort to the same 
expedient to justify his opinions. See the tracts on 
Antichrist, and the use they make of this argument. If 
all the abominations, persecutions, presumptions, and 
impious pretensions of the Papacy, which history re- 
cords, are the characters of the Man of Sin, then surely he 
has been already revealed, as he was not revealed in St 
Paul's own day. To say that we have already witnessed 
these things, and that they constitute the wickedness of 
the wicked one, and yet that he is still to be revealed 
close before the advent of the Lord, and His reign upon 
earth, is not, in my opinion, to submit our minds to the 
text of Scripture, but to make it say what we like. 
The " powers, and signs, and lying wonders " of 
Romanism, have been manifested at full. It is highly 
improbable that they can ever deceive the world again 
as they have done. What a crafty priesthood can con- 
trive in one part of the civilized world, an active press 
and an irrepressible spirit of inquiry and opposition to 
superstitious falsity, exposes and counteracts in another 
part. The passage in Timothy, on forbidding to marry, 
does not to my mind describe Romanistic errors, but 
religious notions of a somewhat different kind. 

The Apocalypse. 329 

If such arc my impressions from the Epistles, still 
more strongly do I feel on going on to the Apocalypse, 
that Popery was not the object of the apostolic pre- 
dictions and denunciations, except so far as all false- 
hood and corruption is so. I cannot pretend to assign 
the meaning of all the various symbols, — I never have 
seen them to my mind satisfactorily explained. The 
"vials" are filled, to every man's fancy, with just those 
exhibitions of evil which most strongly have excited his 

aversion, and alarmed his fears. Mr H notices 

Shelley's "Revolt of Islam," under the sixth vial. Alas! 
poor Shelley! " I'se wae to think of him," as Burns was 
to think of old Nick and his gloomy fate. He had a 
religious clement in his nature ; but it was sadly over- 
borne by an impetuous temper, and a certain pre- 
sumption, which made him cast a iide all the teaching of 
other men that did not approve itself at once to his 
judgment. But to mention him under the sixth vial is 
to give him an infamous sort of fame which he scarcely, 
I think rved. As an unbeliever, he was utterly 

insignificant, — made no proselytes, had no school, nor 
belonged to any school. He had ceased to be an 
atheist before he died, and never had any power, or 
excited any great attention, I think, except as a poet. 
In that line he i tation from which he cannot be 

moved, while any genuine taste for poetry, as such, 

To conclude my impressions of prophecy, not from 
commentaries, but from the text. I own I can see 
nothing but Imperial and Pagan Rome in the Revela- 

I. V 

330 Memoir and Letters of Sara Coleridge. 

tions, as the great object of the prophet's denunciations, 
from beginning to end. It should be borne in mind, I 
think, that the persecutions under the Roman Empire 
were the only warfare that ever has been carried on 
against Christianity as such, — against the religion itself 
under any form. The martyrs during that warfare 
were the only sufferers who could properly be said to 
have died " for the testimony of Jesus." There 
have been anti-Papal martyrs enough for the purity of 
the faith ; but is it not putting the less before the 
greater to imagine that these, and not the thousands 
that were put to death and tortured for professing 
Christianity at all, are those of whom the apocalypt 
wrote with such a pen of fire ? But the whole descrip- 
tion of this Babylon the Great, and her downfall, this 
city on seven hills, to my mind, is expressive of the 
great Roman Empire, of which Rome itself was the 
representative, and not Papal Rome, which never sat 
upon seven hills ; and to convert those seven hills into 
seven Electors of Germany, seems to me a more incredi- 
ble transformation than any in Ovid's metamorphoses. 
Nothing can exceed the boldness of Scriptural meta- 
phor ; but this boldness has its own laws, and the 
same figure which fits one sentence fits not another. 

Tin Wise Virgins. 331 


Occasional Recurrence of Millennial Preachings — Unpractical 

Nature of the Doctrine — Bearing of the Parable of the Ten 
Virgins on this Subject — Various Styles of Contemporary 

To Mi^s Morris. 

[845. — I find that there has been a very general 
preaching of the Millennium in various parts of the 
country of late years. So it will continue to be, I 
think, ever and anon, till some victorious arm shall 
arise, or some victorious pen shall write some book in 
which a real advance shall be made in the elucidation 
of the subject. Hitherto there has been nothing more 
than a repeated eddying round a certain number of 
arguments, which contain a certain quantity of force, 
and are especially striking when first presented to the 
unprepared mind, but which, as I have been led to 
think, are not strong enough to bring the matter to a 
lusion with the majority of the reflective and 
judicious. Hence the subject is often brought for- 
ward, eagerly enforced, makes a number of con- 
verts — some few permanent ones, others only for a 
season ; but then it dies away again, without taking 
any deep hold of the Church at large. I know how 
your brother di of this fact in that judicious 

sermon of his on the "Actual Neglect," ecc, which 
shows a clearer insight into the difficulties of the ques- 
tion, I think, than most Millennial discourses do. He 
observes that the wise virgins slumbered as well as the 
foolish, while the Bridegroom tarried. But if the wise 

S3 2 Memoir and Letters of Sara Coleridge. 

as well as the foolish neglect this doctrine, what are 
they that attend to it ? Our Lord leaves no room for 
them in His parable at all. Looking at the structure 
of it, I can hardly persuade myself that He meant by 
this slumber to indicate a blameable inattention to His 
coming again; for what more could the wise virgins 
have done, had they kept awake the whole night, than 
provide oil for their lamps ? what would they have 
gained more than admission to the marriage-feast ? . . . 

I agree with you quite about Mr B 's sermon and 

its "dry brilliancy." It reminds me of those bright, 
burnished insects whose juiceless bodies clink and 
rattle as they whisk glittering along. His style wants 

Newman's sermon, " Faith against Sight," one of 
those addressed to the University, is an admirable 
specimen of his mind and manner. I think he is the 
finest writer, upon the whole, that we have at present; 
but, with all his power, he will never be able, as I be- 
lieve, to establish more than one half of his body of 
opinion in this land. 


Dr Pusey's Preaching. 

To Miss MORRIS, Mecklenburg Square. 

Chester Place, July yt/i, 1845. — We have had Pusey 
and Manning preaching here lately, the former three 
times. Pusey's middle sermon, preached in the even- 
ing, was the perfection of his style. But it is wrong to 
talk of style in respect of a preacher whose very merit 

Dr. Pusey. 353 

consists in his aiming at no style at all. He is certainly, 
to my feelings, more impressive than any one else in 
the pulpit, though he has not one of the graces of 
orator)-. 1 1 is discourse is generally a rhapsody, de- 
scribing, with infinite repetition and accumulativeness, 
the wickedness of sin. the worthlessness of earth, and 
the blessedness of heaven. He is as still as a statue 
all the time he is uttering it, looks as white as a sheet, 
and is as monotonous in delivery as possible. While 
listening to him, you do not seem to see and hear a 
-, but to have visible before you a most earnest 
and devout spirit, striving to carry out in this world a 
high religious theory. 


Sunset over the Sea. 
To Mrs Farrer. 

Hcrncbay, August 9th, 1S45 — Yesterday evening the 
soft blue of sea and sky, illumined with windows of 
bright rose-colour, which seemed like windows of heaven 
indeed, with the Apocalyptical City stretched out in 
gemmy splendour on the other side, as fancy suggested, 
was most lovely and tranquillizing. 


Canterbury Cathedral, and St Augustine's College. 

To the Hon. Mr Justice Coleridge, 
Heath's Court, Ottery St Man,-. 
Hcrucbay, August lot/i, 1845. — Last Wednesday we 

334 Memoir and Letters of Sara Coleridge. 

went to Canterbury to see the Cathedral and St 
Augustine's. The former I admired more than ever ; 

and D 's architectural lore made our excursion all 

round the outside, and through the inside of this more 
beautiful than sublime structure, all the more remem- 
berable and interesting. Some of the old painted glass 
is the very ideal of that sort of thing, rich and gemmy 
with minute designs, and far removed from the modern 
picture style of painted window. We visited the pre- 
cincts of St Augustine's with very great interest, and 
were pleased to see with our own eyes, how consider- 
able a part of the ancient structure will be woven into 

the view, and what a physical continuity, as D says, 

there will be of the one with the other. The new 
dining-hall takes in the woodwork, to a great extent, of 
the old refectory for strangers ; and the antique archi- 
tectural forms (in the middle-pointed style) will be care- 
fully reproduced. The old gateway will form a very 
imposing entrance to the modern college. 


Re-union of Christendom — The Romish Clergy, and the Roman 


To the Hon. Mr Justice Coleridge. 

Chester Place, August 26th, 1845. — As for desire for re- 
union with the Church of Rome — I verily think that no 
one can exceed me in desire for the union of all 
Christendom, that all who call upon the Name of the 

The Church of Rome. 335 

Lord, and acknowledge the moral law of the New 
Testament, and the necessity of obeying it, should be in 
communion with each other, — the millions of Methodists, 
Baptists, Congregationalists in America, as well as the 

onanists of Italy and Spain. But such a union 
cannot be without concessions on one side or the 
other, if not on both, unless the parties were to 
change their minds to a great extent, in which case 
the debate and the difficulty would be at an end ; and I 
for one could never give up or adopt what would satisfy 
either body. I suppose, however, that you have a 
desire for a re-union with Rone, of a very different kind 
from any you may entertain for union with all Chris- 
tians ; you look upon Rome as a branch of the true 
Church, and the others above-named as out of the pale 
of the true Church. With this feeling I cannot pretend 
to have much sympathy, though it may be my error 
and misfortune not to have it. I think that the Con- 
gregationalists belong to the Church of Christ, as well 
as the others. The Church of Rome I am accustomed 
to regard, not as the aggregate of Christians professing 
Romish doctrine, but as the body of the Romish clergy, 
ther with the system of religious administration 
upon which they proceed. For the former, the multi- 
tude of Romish individuals, I have no feelings of dis- 
like or disrespect whatever, — I believe that numbers of 
them are full of true religion and virtue, and worship 
God in spirit and in truth. The Romish clergy con- 
sidered in their corporate capacity, I cannot but look 
n as full of worldly wisdom and worldly iniquity, 

336 Memoir and Letters of Sara Coleridge. 

and I think, as you do of the Reformation, that old 
Nick contemplates it — i.e., this body, with great satis- 
faction, the cockles of his heart leaping up with delight 
at the view. My Uncle Southey was abused for calling 
the system of the Romish Church " a monstrous struc- 
ture of imposture and wickedness ; " — yet, I think he 
did a good deal to substantiate the charge ; he certainly 
had far more information on the subject than our young 
inamoratos of the modern Romish Church can any of 
them boast, and he had no sort of sympathy with 
dissenters and low churchmen to inspire him with 
enmity against the opposite quarter of Christendom. 
Still I am endeavouring to get rid of Protestant pre- 
judice ; of all feelings and views merely founded on 
habit, apart from reflection and genuine spiritual per- 
ception, — and to consider quietly whether or no there 
be not some good even in the Romish ecclesiastical 
system ; — and some good I do believe there is, especially 
for the lower orders, as I also think there is some good 
in the Methodist system, with which, as well as with the 
religious practices of the strict Evangelicals, Blanco 
White is always comparing the system in which he, to 
his misery, was brought up. But I own it seems to me 
that the good, whatever it may be, is inextricable from 
the evil, both from the nature of the thing, and also 
because the Romish body have never been known to 
make any real concession of any kind or sort — none 
that was not meant as a mere temporary expedient, to 
be withdrawn on the earliest opportunity : and looking 
upon them, as I do, as a power of this zvorld, aiming at 

" Philonoiis to Hylasia." 337 

political domination ami not inspired, as a body, with 

any pure zeal for the furtherance of the truth, be it what 
it may. I cannot believe they ever will. 


" New Heavens and a New Earth." 

The following lines may fitly be inserted here, as a poetical ex- 
pression of the writer's sentiments on these high subjects. — E. C. 

TION, in a Literal Sense, of the Material System. 

I'hilonous to Hylasia. 

Keep, oh ! keep those eyes on me, 

If thou wouldst my soul persuade, 
Soul of reasoner, bold and free, 

Who with pinions undismayed 
Soars to realms of higher worth 
Than aught like these poor heavens and earth. 

Talk no more of Scripture text, 

Tract and note of deep divine: 
These but leave the mind perplexed — 

More effectual means are thine : 
Through that face, so fair and dear, 
The doctrine shines as noonday clear. 

Who that sees the radiant smile 

lJuwn upon thy features bright, 
And thy soft, full eyes the while 

Spreading beams of tender light, 
But must long those looks to greet, 
When perfect souls in joyance meet? 

338 Memoir and Letters of Sara Coleridge. 


Who that round some verdant home 

Day by day with thee hath strayed, 
Through its pathways loved to roam, 

Sat beneath its pleasant shade, 
But must hope that heavenly bowers 
May wear such hues as these of ours ? 

O ye fair and pleasant places, 

Where the eye delighted ranges ; 
O ye dear and friendly faces, 

Loved through all your mortal changes ; 
Are ye but stars, to shine through this life's night, 
Destined, in Heaven's great Day, to vanish from our sight? 

S. C, 1845. 

To Miss Morris. 

Eton, September 8///, 1845. — I have often spoken of 
you to Mr de Vere ; and yesterday I told him that the 
views which he was setting forth, in regard to the future 
world, the glorified body, and the new heavens and 
earth, were in spirit, and to a great degree in form, 
extremely similar to those I had heard you express and 
warmly enlarge upon. / am much more dry, alas ! on 
these subjects ; at least I am aware that my belief must 
appear very dry and cold to all but those who entertain 
it. We somehow fancy that we are to have a quint- 
essence of all that is exalted, and glowing, and beauti- 
ful, in your new-world creed hereafter, only not in the 
same way. Mr de Vere cannot bear to part with our 
human body altogether, nor with this beautiful earth 
with its glorious canopy. He wants to keep these 

" Ode on a Grecian Urn." 339 

things, but to have them unimaginably raised, and 
purified, and glorified! / think that they must go, 
but that all the loveliness, and majesty, and exquisite- 
ness, are to be unimaginably extracted and enshrined 
in a new, unimaginable form, in another, and to us now, 
inconceivable state of existence. He said (so like you), 
" liut I want this earth to have a fair trial, to have it 
show what it can be at the best, in the highest perfec- 
tion of which it is capable, which never has been yet 


Poetry of Keats : its Beauties and Defects—" The Grecian 

Urn" and " Endymion. ' 

To AUBREY DE Vere, Esq., Curragh Chase, Ireland. 

Eton, September 1845. — I admire Keats extremely, 
but I think that he wants solidity. His path is all 
flowers, and leads to nothing but flowers. The end of 
the Endymion is no point : when we arrive there, it is 
looking down a land of flowers, stretching on ad infini- 
tum, the separate parts indistinguishable. I admire all 
the minor poems which you have marked, three of 
them especially. In the "Grecian Urn" I dislike the 
third stanza: it drags out the substance of the preced- 
ing stanzas, which, after all, is stuff of fancy, not of the 
higher imagination, to weariness ; and it ends with an 
unpleasant image, expressed in no very good English. 
" High sorrowful " is Keats' English, if English at all. 


4-0 Memoir and Letters of Sara Coleridge. 

I must say that, spite of the beautiful poetry, as far as 
words and images go, I've no patience with that Adonis 
lying asleep on a couch, with his " white arm " and 
" faint damask mouth," like a " dew-lipped rose," with 
lilies above him, and Cupids all round him. If Venus 
was in love with such a girl-man as that, she was a 
greater fool than the world has ever known yet, and 
didn't know what a handsome man is, or what sort of a 
gentleman is "worthy a lady's eye," even as far as the 
mere outward man is concerned. I do think it rather 
effeminate in a young man to have even dreamed such 
a dream, or presented his own sex to himself in such a 
pretty-girl form. And where is the sense or the beauty 
of setting one woman opposite another, for a pair of 
lovers, instead of an Apollo and a Venus ? This 
effeminacy is the weak part of Keats. Shelley has 
none of it. There is no greater stickler than I am for 
the rights of woman — not the right of speaking in 
Parliament and voting at elections, but of having her 
own sex to herself, and all the homage due to its at- 
tractions. There is one merit in Byron : he is always 
manly. The weaknesses he has are weaknesses of an 
imperfect man, not a want of manliness. 

You will perhaps tell me that the Greek poets have 
sometimes ascribed a delicate beauty to Adonis. But 
I say those poets must have been thinking of their 
own lady-loves all the while, and that Venus herself 
would have admired a very different swain. It is not 
the possession of any beauty of form or hue that will 
make a man effeminate ; but it is the presence of such 

Cine iii " JEndymion" 341 

beauty apart from something else to which it is sub- 
ordinated. It is the absence of this something else, and 
•.ration without it, of that which in woman is 
characteristic and prominent, which makes this picture of 
Keats so disagreeably feminine, at least to my ta 
I think I have a right to preach on this theme, just 
because I am a woman myself. Men in general are 
frights, especially before and after five- and -twenty. 
N thing provokes ladies more than to hear men admir- 
one another's beaut}-. It is less affronting for each 
man to admire his own ; they fancy that is for their 

I must take another half sheet to quarrel with you 
about the " Endymi How could you possibly, after 

making so many marks, pass over that powerful de- 
scription of Circe torturing the metamorphosed wretches 
in the forest, one of the most striking pa - in the 

whole poem. I am afraid you like nothing that is 

r id, that you are too fond of the " roses and the 
thistle-down," and find such things "too flinty hard for 
your nice touch.'' To me it is refreshing, after the 
sugar upon honey and butter upon cream of much that 
precedes. It is fine, too, as an allegory. And is not 
that an energetic expression ? — 

-t and hate, 
And terrors manifold, divided me 
A spoil amongst them." 

pedally powerful is that part beginning — 

" Avenging, si 
Anon she took a branch of mistletoe." 

34 2 Memoir and Letters of Sara Coleridge. 

The deliberate way in which she does the thing is so 
fine, and their anticipation of agony, and the poor ele- 
phant's pathetic prayer ! One feels the cumbrous weight 
of flesh weighing one down in reading it. 

Again, you take no notice of Cynthia's speech to her 
lover, so Beaumont and Fletchery — 

" O that the dreadful smiles 
Had wandd from Olympus' solemn height, 
And from all serious gods !" 

Brimful of love-sick silliness, no doubt, but so is the 
whole poem ; and, instead of flattering the fellow in that 
way, she ought to have given him a sharp dig with her 
keenest arrow for having the abominable bad taste to 
call her lunar lips " slippery blisses." By the bye, what 
think you of " nectarous camel-draughts ? " Is it not 
enough to horrify the very genius of osculation into a 
fit ? Surely, after a camel-draught of nectar, Glaucus 
might have found the contents of the " black, dull, gurg- 
ling phial " an agreeable change, and after such a drench 
of roses and ambrosia, who would not cry aloud for 
camomile and wormwood ? 

These are your omissions. Then, in the way of commis- 
sion, you put a stroke of approval at these lines — 

" Old CEolus thy foe 
Skulks to his cavern, 'mid the ^rw^complaint 
Of all his rebel tempests. 

. . . . " Dark clouds faint 
When, from thy diadem, a silver gleam 
Slants over blue dominion." 

Gruff is a ludicrous word ; and if we may talk about 

Diction of Keats. 3 \\ 

blue dominion, I know not what classes of words there 
arc that may not intermarry with ever)- other class. 
\ ou approve also this — 

'• While ocean's tide 
Hung swollen at their backs, and jewelfd sands 
Took silently their footprints.'' 

Ocean's tide hangs swollen from a dyke, which keeps 
it back ; but does it ever thus hang from a sand)- beach, 
and how should sands be jewelled, and why should it be 
noticed that they took footprints silently ? 

It seems to me that Keats not only falsifies language 
very frequently, besides making words, such as orby, 
serpenting, ece., ad libitum, but that he also falsities 
nature sometimes in his imagery. He turns the outer 
world into a sort of raree show, and combines shapes and 
colours as fantastically and lawlessly as the kaleido- 
scope. The kaleidoscope certainly has a law of its own, 
and so has the young poet, but it is not nature's law, 
nor in liar; a ith it. The old masters, in all their 

>f fancy and invention, never did thus. They 
always placed their wild inventions in the real world, 
and while we wander in their realms of faery, we have 
the same solid earth and blue sky over our heads as 
when we take a walk in the fields to I icclv milking 

the cow. This I think is occasionally the fault of Keats, 
and another is that sameness of sweetness and over- 
lusciousness of which I have already spoken. Reading 
the Endymion is like roaming in a forest of giant jon- 
quils. Nevertheless, I take great delight in his volume, 
and thank you much for putting it into my hands. 

344 Memoir and Letters of Sara Coleridge. 


Sudden Death of her Mother* — Reflections on the Event. 

To the Hon. Mr Justice Coleridge. 

Chester Place, September 26th, 1845. — My Deares 
John, — Thank you for your most kind letter. M 
soul is indeed very sorrowful. The death-silence i 
awful. I had to think of her every minute of the daj 
to be always on my guard against noise ; and she wa 
one that made herself felt, dear creature, every hour i 
the day. / shall never be so missed by any one, m 
life is so much stiller, and more to myself. 

I feel more than ever the longing to go and join ther 
that are gone — but for my children. But the greater 
tie to earth is gone from me, for even the children coul 
do better without me than she could have done. 

All that Nurse tells me of her last days is soothin< 
She wrote contentedly, thankful for Nurse's devotion t 
her, and speaking even of Caroline's desire to pleas 
her. She had said to me, as I was going away, " Th 
is the last time you must leave me." I said, " If yo 
are in the least ill, let me know, and I will return directly 
I knew it would only vex her to give up the visit then. 

I always looked forward to nursing her through a Ion 
last illness. I know not how it was, I could neve 
help looking forward to it with a sort of satisfaction, 
day-dreamed about it — according to the usual way of m 
mind — and cut it out in fancy all in my own way. Sh 

* At Chester Place, on the 24th of September, during my mother's al 
sence on a visit to the Rev. Edward Coleridge at Eton. — E. C. 

ss of her Moth 345 

away gra lually, without much si 
and to ie more and more placid in spirit, and filled 

with the anticipation of heavenly things. I thought, 
that th aid help to prepare me for my chai 

! m as if a long-cherished prospect had ! 
snatched away from me. I thank God I was not thus 
suddenly separated from Henry. — Ever your very affec- 
tion . ter, S \ua G i I Rll 


I :se of Solitude arising from the loss of a Parent — 

Editorial Labours on the "Biographi ria" — Mr Cole- 

immense Reading ; and striking Quotations made from 
obscure Authors. 

To the Hun. Mrs HENRY ': 

10 \th, 1S45. — Your kind 

invitation I feel quite grieved to decline, but I must 
decline it, as I have done man)- others that have lately 
been made me. I do not feel sufficiently equable in 
spirits to leave home now, and cannot agree with my 
friends in general that I should regain this quietude 
better elsewhere than at home. But I hope to see 
more of you, dear Mrs I ay] r, some time hence. The 
death of my mother permanently affects my happin 
more even than I should have anticipated, though I 
always knew that I must feel the separation at first as 
.ere wrench. But I did not apprehend, during her 
life, to what a degree die prevented me from feeling heart- 
solitude, and the full forlornness of a widow's state. I Ier 


46 Memoir and Letters of Sara Coleridge. 

age and infirmities, though they caused me great uneasi- 
ness, had not made any sensible alteration in her mind or 
heart. I lost in her as apprehensive a companion, and 
one who entered as fully into life, as if she had died at 
fifty. She had a host of common remembrances with me 
and interests which my children are strangers to. They 
cannot connect me, as conversation with her so con- 
stantly did, with all my early life. But the worst is the 
loss of cares and duties, due to her, which gave addi- 
tional interest to my existence, and made me feel of 
use and important. 

I am not, however, brooding over grief, from want of 
employment. I am just now, indeed, absurdly busy. I 
have to edit my father's fragmentary work, the Biog- 
raphia Literaria, or at least to continue the preparations 
already made for a new edition. To carry on these 
upon the plan on which they were commenced, and to 
do for the Biographia what has been done for " The 
Friend," and other works of my father, I have found, 
as I advanced into the first volume, for me, exceedingly 
troublesome. A clever literary man, who reads and 
writes on a large scale, would make nothing of the 
business, but it makes me feel as if I had no rest for 
the sole of my feet, and must be continually starting 
up to look into this or that volume, or find it out in 
some part of Europe. As little boys at school do so 
wish that Virgil and Livy would but have written easily, 
so I am sometimes tempted to wish that my father 
would just have read more common-place-is kly, and not 
quoted from such a number of out-of-the-way books, 

„ / Giant Campanula. 347 

which not five persons in England but himself, would 
ever look into. The trouble I take is so ridiculously 
disproportioned to any effect that can be produced, and 

we are so apt to incisure our importance by the efforts 
we make, rather than the good we do, that I am obliged 
to keep reminding myself of this very truth, in order 
not to become a mighty person in my own eyes, while I 
remain as small as ever in the eyes of every one else. 

Then my father had such a way of seizing upon the 
one bright thing, out of long tracts of (to most persons) 
dull and tedious matter. I remember a great cam- 
panula which grew in a wood at Keswick — two or three- 
such I found in my native vale, during the course of my 
flower-seeking days. As well might we present one of 
these a imple of the blue-bells of bonny Cumber- 

land, or the one or two oxlips, which may generally be 
found among a multitude of cowslips in a Somersetshire- 
meadow, a [mens of the flowerhood of the field, as 
give these extract- for proof of what the writer was 
generally wont to produce. 


" S. T. C. on the Body" — The Essentia] Principle of Life not de- 
pendent on the Materia ;iism — Teaching of St. Paul on 
this Point — The Glorified Humanity of Christ — Disembodied 
Souls. — Natural Regrets arising from the Thought of our great 

To AU1 REY l'I VERE, Esq. 

" What did Luther mean by a body? For to me the 
word seemeth capable v( two senses, universal and 

348 Memoir and Letters of Sara Coleridge. 

special ; first, a form indicating to A. B. C, &c, the 
existence and finiteness of some one other being, de- 
monstrative as hie, and disjunctive as hie et non illc, and 
in this sense God alone can be without body ; secondly, 
that which is not merely hie distinctive, but divisive ; 
yea, a product divisible from the producent as a snake 
from its skin, a precipitate and death of living power, 
and in this sense the body is proper to mortality, and 
to be denied of spirits made perfect, as well as of the 
spirits that never fell from perfection, and perhaps of 
those who fell below mortality, namely, the devils."* 

What did S. T. C. mean by a. form, not material ? A 
material form is here divisive as well as disjunctive, and 
this he denies of the essential body or bodily principle. 
Did he conceive the body in essence to be supersen- 
suous, not an object of sense, not coloured or extended 
in space ? Of the bodily principle we know only this, 
that it is the power in us which constructs our outward 
material organism, builds up our earthly tenement of 
flesh and blood. Can this power, independently of the 
organism in and by which it is manifested, be conceived 
of as a form indicating the existence and finiteness of 
some one being to another ? I believe that with our 
present faculties we are incapable of conceiving how a 
soul can be embodied, otherwise than in a sensuous 
frame, but knowing as we do, that our fleshly case is 
not a part of ourselves, but that there is a something in 
ourselves which thus clothes us in matter, I think we 
may infer that the human body in the deepest sense is 

* Coleridge's "Notes Theological, Political," &c, page 49. — E. C. 

•• . / Spiritual Body" 349 

independent of matter, and that it may, in anotl 
sphere of existence, be our form, that which indicates 

ther beings our finite distinct individual being, in a 
way which now we are not able to know or imagine. 
B it what did St Paul mean when he declared 
emphatically, " Now this, I say, brethren, that flesh 

d cannot inherit the kingdom of God." Is he not 
to be understood literally ? Mast we suppose him to 
have meant only this, the carnal mind, or the man in 

»m the lower animal nature has the upper hand 
cannot inherit the kingdom? But how will such an 
interpretation suit the context ? St Paul has been 
• it of holiness and unholiness, but of soul and 
[y and the state after death, when this mortal taber- 
nacle shall have been dissolved. In reference to this 
subject he affirms that as we have borne the image of 
the earthy, that is a material body, we shall also bear 
the image of the heavenly, and then straightway adds 
that flesh and blond shall not inherit the Divine king- 
dom. To this, indeed, he adds again, " Neither doth 
corruption inherit incorruption, evidently identifying flesh 
and blood with the corruptible, not introducing the 
alien topic of spiritual corruption. Jeremy Taylor affirms 
in reference to this passage in Corinthians, that "in the 
resurrection our bodies are said to be spiritual, not in 
substance, but in effect and operation ;" upon which my 
father observes, " This is, in the first place, a wilful in- 
terpretation, and secondly, it is absurd, for what sort of 
flesh and blood would incorruptible flesh and blood be? 
As well might we speak of marble flesh and blood. In 

350 Memoir and Letters of Sara Coleridge. 

the sense of St Paul, as of Plato and all other dynamic 
philosophers, flesh and blood is ipso facto corruption, 
that is, the spirit of life in the mid or balancing state 
between fixation and reviviscence. Who shall deliver 
me from the body of this death is a Hebraism for 
" this death which the body is." For matter itself is 
but spiritus in coagulo, and organised matter the coagu- 
him in the act of being restored, it is then repotentiating. 
Stop its self-destruction as matter, and you stop its self- 
reproduction as a vital organ." * 

St Paul declares that in the resurrection we are to be 
clothed with a spiritual body, and to leave behind the 
natural body which we had from Adam. Now what is 
a spiritual as opposed to a natural body ? Surely the 
latter is a material and fleshly body, and no body of 
flesh and blood can be otherwise than natural, or can 
be properly spiritual. Make the flesh and blood ever 
so thin, fine, and aerial, still the difference betwixt that 
and any other flesh and blood will be one of degree, 
not of kind. But the Apostle does not promise us a 
body of refined flesh and blood, such as, according to 
some theologians, Adam had before the fall, but sets 
aside our Adamite body altogether, and seems indeed 
to imply that the first man had no spirituality at any 
time, for he is opposed to the second man as being of 
the earth, earthy, as if in his character of the first man, 
and not as fallen man, he was the source of earthiness, 
the Lord from Heaven alone being the foundation of 
the spiritual. 

* -'Notes on English Divines," Vol. II., p. 284.— E. C. 

- At the Right I land of God? 35 1 

There are some who believe that the Lord from 
Heaven i> now sitting at the right hand of the Father 

in a material and fleshly body, such as He won upon 
earth, and appeared in after the Resurrection, — a meta- 
ical right hand, .. rson explains it, but the body 

\A Him who sits thereat, of flesh and blood. It is quite 
natural for such believers to expect that the bodies of 
the saints in the resurrection will be fleshly too. As 
the first fruits, so the}- must think will be all that follow. 
This argument, however, seems to prove too much for 
those who contend that our bodies in the future world 
are to be of flesh and blood, but refined and glorified, 
and no longer natural. For the body in which our 
Lord ascended was the same as that which He had 
before lie rose from the dead. It was certainly a 
natural body, that could be felt as well as seen, and 
which ate and drank. 

But my father believed that there will be a resurrec- 
tion of the body, which will have nothing to do with 
flesh and blood; he speaks of a ftoutnenalhody, as opp< • 
to our present phenomenal one, which appears to the 
senses, " no visible, tangible, accidental body, that i 
cycle of in. am\ sensations in the imagination of the 

beholders, but a supersensual bod}-, the noutnenon of the 
human nature."* In truth, he considered this body 
inseparable from the being of man, indispensable to the 
actual existence of finite spirits, the notion of disem- 
bodied souls floating about in some unknown region in 
the intermediate state, after the dissolution of the 

* " .'■ glish Divines," Vol. II., p. 52. — E.C. 

352 Memoir and Letters of Sara Coleridge. 

material organism, and before the union of the soul 
with a celestial, incorruptible flesh-and-blood body, he 
looked upon as a mere dream, a chimera suited only to 
the times when men were wont to convert abstractions 
into persons, and to ascribe objective reality to creatures 
which the intellectual and imaginative faculty engen- 
dered within itself. Pie laughed at the notion of the 
separability of the real body from the soul, the arbitrary 
notion of man as a mixture of heterogeneous compo- 
nents. " On this doctrine," he says, " the man is a mere 
phenomenal result, a sort of brandy-sop, a toddy- 
punch, a doctrine unsanctioned by, indeed inconsistent 
with, the Scriptures. It is not true that body plus soul 
makes man. Man is not the syntheton or composition 
of body and soul, as the two component units. No — 
man is the unit, the prothesis, and body and soul are 
the two poles, the positive and negative, the thesis and 
antithesis of the man, even as attraction and repulsion 
are the two poles in and by which one and the same 
magnet manifests itself." * 

I continually feel sorrowful at the thought of never 
again beholding the faces of my friends, or rather, about 
to be sorrowful. I come up to the verge of the thought 
ever and anon, but before I can enter into it am met by 
the reflection, " O vain and causeless melancholy!" — 
whatever satisfaction or happiness I can conceive as accru- 
ing to me in this way, cannot the Omnipotent bestow it 
upon me in some other way, if this is not in harmony 
with Mis Divine plan? The loss, the want, is in this life 
* "Notes on English Divines," Vol. II., p. 96.— E.C. 

" We shall all be Changed." 353 

only, for whatever that other sphere of existence may 

I shall be adjusted to it. Still in this life it is .1 loss 

and a trial to feel that we cannot image <>r represent t<> 

ourselves veritably the state and happiness. We long 

iin the very faces of our friends, and cannot 
raise ourselves to the thought that in the other world 
there may be no seeing with the visual eye, but some- 
thing better than such seeing, something by which it is 
absorbed and superseded. The belief that the future 
world for man is this world reformed, exalted and 
purified, is one which I cannot reconcile with reason. 


Tin> rs t Printer', Edinbui 




moir and letters